'Now You See Me' Movie Review: Nothing But Smoke And Mirrors
It’s unbelievable how Now You See Me squanders the collective talent of an incredible ensemble cast with a movie that only gives you an illusion of being an exciting film. It has all the misdirects, twists, and turns that should push a movie from solid to great — see Inception — but can these elements work if they have no solid base to work with? Now You See Me almost pulls off this unfeasible magic trick with smoke and a lot of mirrors (oh, so that’s how magicians make a rabbit appear from thin air). But the movie is best seen from afar, because unlike in magic tricks, where “the closer you look, the less you see,” the closer you look, the more faults you see.
Now You See Me begins by showcasing the talents of four magicians: Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson). One year later, they are the “Four Horseman” performing a show in Las Vegas, and are financed by a wealthy insurance mogul by the name of Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). Their popularity soars when, during the show, they somehow rob a bank based in France and distribute the money to the audience. This stunt immediately draws the ire of the authorities, forcing together FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Vargas (Mélanie Laurent). And to add one more recognizable cast member, they enlist, or attempt to seek the help of, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), an ex-magician who exposes the secrets behind magicians and makes loads of money doing so.
Now, the movie appears to be a simple heist and chase movie, something like Ben Affleck’s The Town, but since Now You See Me is a movie about magic tricks, it feels the need to throw misdirects around like a game of 52-card pickup and forces the audience to pick up the pieces. We’re left trying to figure out why a mysterious organization of magicians called “The Eye” is so important or what “The Oracle” has to do with anything in the movie. These major plot holes mask smaller head-scratchers like why the Interpol agents care more about learning about the history of magicians than catching the bad guys, or why Franco’s character is so good at fighting. And *spoiler alert*, Now You See Me never ends up explaining anything.
But if you don’t pay attention too carefully, Now You See Me is a pretty entertaining flick. Eisenberg puts on a strong performance as Daniel Atlas, a know-it-all arrogant prick who is incredibly skilled in sleight-of-hand tricks — he’s essentially the Mark Zuckerberg of the magic world. And Harrelson plays Merritt McKinney, a mentalist who is able to read minds by analyzing a person’s body expressions to great comedic effect. The movie is also full of suspense typical of a thriller, since most of the film plays out as a game of cat and mouse between Agents Rhodes and Vargas and the “Four Horseman.” And there are plenty of magic tricks, illusions, and even a resurrection that allows Now You See Me to overcome its flaws.
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