August 27, 2014

Movie Review: Now You See Me

Now You See Me makes for the perfect flick to kick off the 2013 summer movie season. The movie takes the classic heist/caper storyline and combines it with the thrill of an eye-defying magic show. We get to watch attractive movie stars "stick it to the man"-the man being banks, insurance, and other corporate entities, plus people who don't believe in magic.

What makes Now You See Me work is that you will stay involved and entertained by the many twists and turns ahead. If you've seen the trailer, you know that the magicians are going to rob a bank and the police are going to be befuddled by their schemes. What the trailer doesn't show you is that while watching this movie, you will continually question the motivations of each character and question what you are seeing. Some of the things you will guess, but the film makes good use of one of the magician's trick of misdirection to keep you looking at only part of the picture. Only at the end do we see the reveal, and we're glad.


The four magicians are Henley (Isla Fisher), Michael Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Jack (Michael Franco, who is a dead ringer for brother, James), and Merritt Osbourne (Woody Harrelson). All four are using their magical skills to raise cash, some in more ethical ways than others. We see a mysterious person in a hooded sweatshirt watching all of them. We then see all four receiving a different card from a tarot deck, summoning them to a certain apartment building. When they arrive, they meet one another, and it looks like trouble will ensue, until they are all dumbfounded by an elaborate "trick" that gets them interested in a new project. The project is a series of 3 different magic shows, where they will perform mind-blowing tricks that amaze the audience and make the authorities chasing them look like idiots. Always, it looks like the magicians are 3 steps ahead of everyone, but are they the masterminds behind these robberies?

Now You See Me is a great film that is filled with humor, magic tricks, and a merry chase through the streets of New Orleans. The plot runs like a steam engine, it doesn't relent until the last second. There are appropriate amounts of quiet where the characters reveal things about themselves. They may not tell the truth, but they share who they are. The characters that count are all well-developed, too. The magicians each bring a charm into their character, which translates well on the stage. Jesse Eisenberg plays a very similar character to the one in Social Network. In the future, it will be interesting to see if he can play someone other than a controlling emotionally unavailable male, but maybe it's his niche. Woody Harrelson proves he's still one of the most charming middle-aged actors out there. He's never been one of the attractive people, but he's so likable it doesn't matter. This was my first time watching Michael Franco, and he has some great stunt work, as well as some great moments of vulnerability. He's the eye candy in this film. I've never been too crazy over Mark Ruffalo, but he does a passable job. Isla Fisher is her usual cute, charming self, and Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine each get nods as supporting actors.

The director of Now You See Me, Louis Leterrier, who has worked on mostly actions flicks so far, makes good use of the settings: New Orleans, Paris, and Las Vegas. Each plays an important role in the storyline and creates fun moments for the chase scenes. The movie is really one big magic trick and follows the formula, including the setup, performance, and the reveal, or prestige. This style is carried throughout well. I highly recommend Now You See Me. It makes for a fun, highly entertaining experience.
 


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