If there is one form of entertainment that really needs to be seen in person to get the full effect, I would say that it would have to be magic shows. If you see it on television, where it was prerecorded, then your first instinct is to think that what you see was manipulated by “movie magic” or special effects.
With only two mildly successful movies revolving around the hocus-pocus in recent years — “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige” — director Louis Leterrier (“Clash of the Titans,” “The Incredible Hulk”) certainly had an uphill battle in multiple ways. He not only had to make a fun and convincing film, but also enchant the audience enough to keep them involved and interested in thinking about the tricks as they are happening.
With a strong cast of actors and an interesting premise, “Now You See Me” is going to put up a strong fight at the box office, but can this smaller film from Summit Entertainment compete with the bigger summer blockbusters? Read on to hear my thoughts on the film.
“Now You See Me” takes four seemingly unassuming small-time magicians, all with their own skill sets, and suddenly they start working together and begin to perform sold-out shows in Las Vegas. The four are: J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), a showman and card expert; Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), a daredevil and escape artist; Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a mentalist and expert hypnotist; and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) an upcoming street con artist.
During a live show, they seem to rob a Parisian bank and then shower the audience with the currency. This leads to interrogations by the FBI and Interpol. FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) takes a real interest in the crime when there doesn’t seem to be a shred of evidence linking the four to the actual crime. The wealthy backer of the crew is Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), who has his own team of lawyers protecting the group. The FBI turns to an ex-magician and famous debunker of the best magicians, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), to help them figure out how they are pulling off these heists.
> As the story progresses, the shows move to different locations and it looks as though there is no way to catch these modern day Robin Hoods. There is more going on then you know and everything is connected. As one of the characters says in the movie, “The closer you are, the less you see.” So try to figure out how it all connects before the film ends and while you do, enjoy the ride.
“Now You See Me” is not as straight-forward as it seems. While it is a movie involving magic, it’s more of a mash-up between a heist movie and a chase film, with a mystery to be solved.
This group of magicians — they dub themselves the “Four Horsemen” — all play well off each other and there isn’t a weak link in the bunch. There are standout performances by Woody Harrelson as the comedic relief and Jesse Eisenberg who surprisingly steps up to essentially be the leader of the Horsemen. We get great performances from two Oscar-winners Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman in supporting roles where they don’t play the nice characters we are used to seeing them in. Finally, our two pursuers played by Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent, work well off each other, with a strong connection but with opposing ideals they help each other down the path to exposing the truth and finding the answers. Ruffalo is a major commodity right now after his turn in the blockbuster Marvel’s “The Avengers” and as always it is great to see him in a fun new role.
Director Louis Leterrier tries his best to make a fun, enchanting movie filled with mystery and some plot twists. It’s a fun popcorn film. While it will be hard to compare “Now You See Me” to the major summer releases that are about to, or have already opened, it stands its ground and is a completely enjoyable film. It is one of those movies that doesn’t make you think too hard and while the twists aren’t quite hidden well enough in the story, I still really liked the film and would suggest it for those looking for a nice night out at the movies.
“Now You See Me” is in theaters now and is rated PG-13 for language, action and mild suggestive content. You can see the first four minutes of the movie by clicking HERE.
. . .
“Like” It’s Just Movies on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/itsjustmovies.