Clever 'Gotcha' Not Enough to See Now You See Me
- Thursday, May 30, 2013
DVD Release Date: September 3, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: May 30, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (for some language, intense action, and sexual content)
Run Time: 116 min
Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Melanie Laurent, Dave Franco, Michael Caine
Some films – regardless of how well they're made – ultimately rise or fall for the viewer via the subject matter itself. Now You See Me is a perfect example.
Despite being a handsomely mounted piece of Hollywood entertainment, if you’re really not into the glitz-spectacles of Vegas-styled magic shows then Now You See Me isn’t going to cast its spell on you. There’s a lot to see here – and even more hidden to look for – and it’s all very smartly constructed. But it's just a construct. This plays like the movie equivalent of a CBS procedural: high in concept and production artifice, while low – or at least simple – in character depth.
The plot-heavy machinations and labyrinth slight-of-hand narrative unspool with glossy precision, but the characters are just machinations as well. Whatever depth they have is derived from a talented cast committing to the material as much as possible, even as the dialogue they’re given is a bit too clever and slick for its own good. And then there’s how the whole resolution feels like a cop-out, but we’ll get to that.
Now You See Me is the story of four moderately successful magicians who are mysteriously assembled by an unknown benefactor for the high stakes purpose of robbing banks. The ingenious catch is that the heists are a part of their high-dollar magic shows, billed as The Four Horseman. This puts the difficult onus on the FBI to charge them of a crime committed by means of magic – something that can’t hold up in court. The thefts are happening yet they can’t be proven.
Each magician, as you’d imagine, has his or her own forte. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg, To Rome With Love) is a traditional showman; Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson, The Hunger Games) works in the so-called psychic powers of Mentalism; Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher, The Great Gatsby) is Atlas's former protégé turned escape artist; and up-and-comer Jack Wilder (Dave Franco, Warm Bodies) uses his talents as a low-rent shakedown conman.
There are four other players in this game as well: an investor (Michael Caine, The Prestige), a debunker (Morgan Freeman, Oblivion), and the two investigators – Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo, The Avengers) and Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent, Inglorious Basterds) – tasked to break the case and bring the illusionists to justice.
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