Monday, November 25, 2013

Now You See Me Review

Now You See Me Review
I love it when a movie pulls a fast one on me. I love being surprised, I love it when a movie tries to do something and I can't see it, even if the answer is right in front of me. I have seen a lot of films that fall under this genre, and nothing gets me more giddy that a good brain-teaser. However, its been quite awhile since I've been wowed. Usually, when it comes to movie about magic, there is some kind of big reveal or twist at the end. In fact, in 2006 we had two great examples of that in "The Illusionist" and "The Prestige," two fine examples of a magician movie burning your noodle. I love a good cerebral meltdown, but I hate a lazy cerebral meltdown. 

"Now You See Me" revolves around 4 gifted magicians, J. Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Henley (Isla Fisher) and Jack (Dave Franco). Each of these talented magicians has a very specific piece of magic they specialize in, and they each get a mysterious invitation to a locked apartment room in New York City, they break in only to find it empty, but find something. A year later, they are The Four Horsemen and they are having their first big show in Las Vegas. Their show ends with them apparently robbing a bank in Paris, France. Seems like a big, fun joke until Parisian authorities decree that a bank was indeed robbed at the corresponding time of the Las Vegas show, so what happened? FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is hot on the trail, with Interpol Agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) and they plan to stop The Four Horsemen before they rob again.

Had the film only centered on the FBI going after the con-artist magicians, I would have felt the movie was just fine. But the film shoehorns in a professional magician debunker (Morgan Freeman), and a stupid subplot involving a secret magic organization that began around the time of Ancient Egypt. "Now You See Me," ends up having the problem of too much story for absolutely no reason. The reason why "The Prestige" and "The Illusionist" worked so well is that they were simple stories at their core. The best brain-teaser films are simple at their core. The problem some of these films run into is that they try to hard, and "Now You See Me" definitely suffers from that. 

There is a lot of big talent in this movie, and they all do fine with what they've been given. Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher, Franco, Ruffalo, Laurent and Freeman are all very good, you don't need me to tell you that. Their resume's speak for themselves, and they are all quite charming. So is Michael Caine, so is Common and so is Michael Kelly. All of these actors have proven themselves over the years, and nobody derailed their career here.

With silly subplots and good acting, I figured that this movie could earn some merit back, if they could pull it off. I have seen enough magic movies to know that as the film began, I instantly started paying attention. Looking at every actor, every gesture, looking for clues, looking for things that look off, the whole bit. So by the end of the movie, when the big reveals start flowing in, I wasn't surprised. The reveals are actually quite hokey, and if you pay attention, you can see them coming a mile away. When its revealed who was masterminded everything over the last hour and forty-five minutes of movie, I had a feeling it was them. If I have a movie figured out before its over, it looses me. I love getting lost in movies, acting as if I am apart of the action. "Now You See Me" didn't quite do that. "The Prestige" is a great movie because, even though I paid close attention, I didn't see the ending coming, but I certainly saw the ending for "Now You See Me" coming. 

If you watch "Now You See Me" for anything, go to look at all the good actors being good at what they do. Their talent makes the movie manageable, so that gives the film some points. But the two things that weigh the film down for me are the subplots and the handling of ending. For movies like these, those two things are paramount.

FINAL GRADE: C

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