“Sit back and enjoy your front row seat.”
Abracadabra. Alakazam. Watch the plot of “Now You See Me” dis-a-PPEAR!
Oh yes, the new Summit Entertainment whodunit lacks any semblance of a story. Any at all. But that’s the bad side of sleight of hand. Often there’s no narrative just the amazement of the trick.
“Now You See Me,” directed by Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk), is one great, feature length magic act. It introduces four magicians who are tops in their type of magic and then brings them together for an intense, grand illusion.
J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is the firecracker-tongued card man; Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is the lightning fast mentalist; Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), the former assistant turned center attraction; and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) the guy who was always more theft than magic, but is so good at it they couldn’t accomplish the mission without him.
These entertainers, known to their astounded audiences as “The Four Horsemen,” are the engine behind a mysterious architect’s plans.
Michael Caine is Arthur Tressler, a sharp witted, elder gentleman who remains dazzled by his own millions. Morgan Freeman is wide awake for his role as Thaddeus Bradley, a former illusionist himself, and the eagle eye policing the tricks of other magicians.
In the first incredible show The Four Horsemen promise to rob a bank. They pick a random member of the audience, transport him to the vault in his bank in France, and then steal all the money without taking one step from the stage. You can clap because it is amazing, as thrilling as watching real magicians perform. How did they do it, you’ll ask — even though it’s a movie.
Thaddeus Bradley has you covered. Immediately after the trick is successfully completed The Four Horsemen are arrested. Entre dans un agent d’Interpol, Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent), a French, fresh faced newbie who is inexplicably added to the case. She partners with a disorganized Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), the government agent recklessly determined to literally catch these Horsemen in the act.
They turn to Thaddeus for inside information and he eagerly, and somewhat smugly, complies. From there the movie becomes a chase — foot chases and car chases — and a race. A race for information. It is filled with exciting action and the intrigue of magic. That is what makes “Now You See Me” so good.
That and the phenomenal performances from the all-star cast. Even as the relationships between the characters mean almost nothing because they aren’t contributing to any plot, they are adorable to watch, and infinitely entertaining.
Woody Harrelson returns to the screen in all his cheeky glory. It is the humorous, banter heavy interactions from the central cast that keep the movie interesting and Harrelson is at the heart of it.
The visual design of the film and some of the camera perspective is pretty sensational. It supports the mix of magic, humor, action, and mystery perfectly. It’s not overdone. There’s a nice balance between movie tricks and magic tricks. It gives “Now You See Me” an older-school feel and keeps the illusion within the illusion as realistic as it can be.
Though the movie is just one big charade, it feels right that a commercial film would focus on the amazing attraction of contemporary magicians, how the tricks these days integrate a certain realism and horror that boggles the minds of curious audiences far and wide. “Now You See Me” is, in part, an observation of the viewer’s sentiments and experiences with this popular sorcery and is a very interesting place to create from.
There is intrigue galore. The mystery of the movie is discovering, not the secrecy of how, but the secrecy of who. Everyone’s a suspect, then no one is. The moral ambiguity of each character — everyone’s a bad guy, but they’re all also kind of good guys — makes it all the more difficult to ascertain the man behind the curtain. This time it isn’t James Franco, but it very well could be his equally as cute, equally as loved by the camera little brother.
“Now You See Me” is such a fun and enthralling ride that you don’t want to solve the puzzle. You’re willing to go along for the experience and wait for the reveal, laughing the whole way. A good magic trick is rooted in the strength of its misdirect and so is a good movie. “Now You See Me” does an amazing job, particularly without any coherent storyline, investing you in both.
This movie is appropriate for a cool night out on a date or with your teenagers to enjoy some laughs and some magic. Even without a plotline, “Now You See Me” has that ‘wow’ factor.