Now You See Me (2013)
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
Written By:Ed Solomon and Boaz Yakim
Time: 106 min
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman
Plot: An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.
Comments: For my birthday I decided E and I needed to go see a movie. I have always been a fan of the crime caper whether it is film (The Inside Job, Oceans 11) or TV (Leverage, White Collar and Hustle). Plus I completely dig the whole magic scene (Bucket List completely includes a trip to the Magic Castle. NPH....invite me). There is something about magic, about believing the impossible and returning to those days of wonder. When I was a kid I went to a David Copperfield show and was blown away. Holy cow, magic people. Real magic. It didn’t matter to me that it was an illusion. For two hours I believed in the impossible and that was good enough for me. Add both of these elements into a movie, sure thing I will go.
The movie opens up with our band of thieves in the various professions that they do while a mysterious figure in a hoodie watches. We first see J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), a cocky David Blaine-esque street performer. Then we have Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Atlas’ former assistant, who is now an escape artist who thrills the audience in her shock magic show (though seriously piranhas don’t do that. There was a Mythbusters on it). Woody Harrelson plays Marritt Osbourne, a hypnotist who cons people out of their money and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) who is our actual thief and his skills in lock picking and sleight of hand are indeed magic.
The four are brought together through a mysterious invitation to become the Four Horsemen. One year later they are in Vegas selling out a show with their finale being a teleportation device that leads to the theft of millions all the way in France. Of course this brings the attention of FBI detective Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Vargas (Mélanie Laurent) who try to figure out how they did it and prevent them from doing more heists in New Orleans and Brooklyn. Then you also have Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who spends his time exposing illusions and telling people exactly how it is done and Michael Caine as Arthur Tressler who is the benefactor of the Four Horsemen.
Things I enjoyed were the overall story of the magic thefts and the rush to try and catch them and figure out how it is all done. It is very pretty to watch and I enjoyed watching the various elements come together. Plus it had me guessing. Even though Eben says he knew it all in the first 30 minutes (still think he is lying. sorry sweetie), I didn’t. Watching The Prestige way too many times has me considering all angles. Misdirection. And flair. The film does it well in my opinion.
The script does have some holes, but most movies do. None of them were so gapingly huge that it ruined things for me (Total Recall reboot was another story). Pace was nice, even some clever camera shots which I know I am not supposed to notice, but I did because they were nice and visually interesting.
For all that I loved, I do have some nitpicks. Jesse Eisenberg was the weakest for me. all I could think was that he was just playing an illusionist version of Mark Zuckerberg with the same delivery, arrogance and vanity that he did in Social Network. And that is a crying shame as I was excited to see him and Harrelson again after Zombieland since they had such great screen chemistry and really played well off of one another.
I also thought at times it was a bit too flashy. We know that everything is an illusion, that it is not really magic. We know that there is a logical way that each illusion was done. But when the CGI is so slick that you can’t believe in the illusion at all and just want to scream at the CGI, then you have a problem. There is a scene with fabric, a piece of silk placed over the final trick and while there are a great many things you can do with fabric, filament, vacuums, etc, instead it just looked like overdone CGI and the movie lost me for a little bit. I guess I was actually hoping you had some actual magic and illusions in the movie instead of just straight up CGI. Because there are some great illusionists out there, especially sleight of hand guys. Just ask Neil Patrick Harris. he’ll point you in the right direction.
Rent/Cinema? Cinema. For a popcorn film, I was entertained. Not sure if I would buy it later this year, but I do not feel as if my money was wasted at all.