Saturday, May 10, 2014

Now You See Me (2013)

JohnnyTwoToes reviews this preposterously shallow but fun caper thriller

The one thing you don't want to do is try to follow the plot in Now You See Me (2013), because you will not be able to do it. This is french director Louis Leterrier's sixth film in a mostly hit and miss career as a director. The only three films he has directed that I have enjoyed at all are Jet Li's Unleashed from 2005 formerly entitled Danny The Dog, mildly, Transporter 2 and his best film to date, The Incredible Hulk (here comes the hate mail). I thoroughly despised the Clash Of The Titans remake and was even more stunned with its sequel. 

Now You See Me is a clever and fun mix of magic, humor and action but it goes so far over the top that by film's end I just could not take it seriously. This is a film that has a wink but it does want you to believe the story. How they expect you to believe it is beyond me. The film has a dream cast with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, the simply stunning Isla Fisher and Dave Franco as 'the Four Horsemen' illusionists. They are the hottest magic show in Vegas and for their latest feats they rob banks. Or do they? 

When the FBI becomes involved (even though I have no idea of how they could get involved),here is no real evidence that could prove ANYTHING about a bank robbery, but okay I will for the sake of argument give you that. Mark Ruffalo is the lead SAC of catching the Four Horsemen and he is aided by the lovely Melanie Laurent who is a 'desk jockey' getting her first big case. Throw in Michael Caine as the group's underwriter and Morgan Freeman as the man who spills the beans on how magicians ply their trade (basically debunks them) and you have a fairly fun movie. 

Where the film goes wrong is that is spends so much time creating the world of magic in such a flamboyant way, that there is no credible way of taking this film seriously. The scenes where they want you to believe in the magic are immediately debunked by the magicians themselves, so what they were trying to do is anybodies guess. Then there is a whole subplot about the magicians try to get into the EYE which is like the Holy Grail for magicians. None of that made any sense and it plays into the climax which does not make a bit of sense. 

The cast is well played out, though. Eisenberg as the leader, Daniel is a fast talking and smart individual who dares the FBI to come after them. Isla Fisher is the gorgeous Henley who can immerse herself into a tank of water, shackled to the floor of the tank with only 60 seconds to free herself or another tank above with Piranhas will drop into the tank below. Dave Franco plays Jack and man who can either bend a spoon or pick your pocket depending on who you are and the most interesting character, Merritt the Mentalist played by the very busy Woody Harrelson. These four are great on screen. They have chemistry and and fun to watch. Michael Caine is in a small but important role, however I do wish they had spent more time developing his character and Morgan Freeman is slithery as the man who hates magicians and makes tons of money off of telling all of their secrets on DVDs. Ruffalo and Laurent make a good team and how much do you wanna bet they hook up by the end of the film? 

Now You See Me is fun, I will give it that but the film would have been better served to make the magic a little more believable thus insuring the plot to be taken more seriously. The script by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt (with the story by Yakin and Ricourt) seems to spend so much time on the extravagant and elaborate setup that I never really came to know the back round of the Four Horsemen. In 10 minutes they go from street hustling to Vegas and the finale is so preposterous that I caught myself laughing out loud. There is a dizzying amount of flash and pizzazz with the magic, yet, the characters are so thin that they are nothing more than plot gimmicks. Brian Tyler's orchestral score, however, is a thunderous achievement and worthy of purchasing on Amazon or wherever soundtracks are still sold. 

Being a box office success, there is a sequel planned with everyone returning from the director to the main cast. Maybe they can answer some questions posed in the first film. Let's hope they can tone down the sensationalism and simply go for sensational. Now You See Me is a 'one and you're done' type of film with the real magic missing. You can enjoy it once and then move on to something else. Now You See Me-**1/2


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