Now You See Me – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

nowyouNow You See Me – 3/5 – Being a movie fan and critic, I watch a lot of films.  Each and every time I go to the theater or sit on the couch to give a couple hours to watching something, I don’t expect much and really just hope to be entertained.  Outside of entertainment, I usually don’t go beyond seeing the average line in movies unless there is something unique that catches my eye.  With storylines, themes, tones and basic archetypes being recycled in movies, including summer films, you can only expect to see uniqueness in the routine of cinema.  With Now You See Me, you get that uniqueness, to a point.  Dealing with the art of magic, this movie is an interchanging of a guessing game that you will either love or loathe.  Overall, with some commonality in the unique twist, Now You See Me is a sub-par but entertaining summer flick.

Premise: In a twisting of fate, an FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances.  What entails is a trail of bread crumbs that will lead to the fact, that the trick is bigger then what they know.

This film is filled with so many people, it is a little overwhelming.  Let’s first focus on the main magicians, known as the Four Horseman.  These four are Daniel Atlas, Merritt McKinney, Henly Reeves and Jack WIlder.  They are played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco respectfully.  Together as a group, they are remarkable and mesmerizing.  When they perform in the shows and demonstrate their skills, they form a whole bigger character within these acts.  Each of them has a specific trait within magic, and it helps form layers to the story aspect.  As separate characters, they don’t stand out. As individuals, they are just not as intriguing when they are performing on stage as a collective whole.  In the film, they aren’t separated as much, as they are shown as a group for majority of the film.  With the other important roles in the film, you have the FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), the Interpol agent Jasmine Trassler (Caitriona Balfe) the man banking the magicians (Michael Caine) and the magician trying to expose the four (Morgan Freeman).  They are all good in their roles, but they come off as typical and straight forward, with no strong interest as individuals.  They play as points for the unfolding story, as you watch as they are all confused by the tricks as much as the audience (in and watching the film).  There is a lot of predictability to their roles, and each line becomes a mundane task of portraying some quality when there isn’t any to be found.  Also, there is a love interest between the two agents (Ruffalo and Balfe) that is unwanted and unappealing.  This side story felt so shoehorn, you cringe when seeing it on the screen.  The rest of the supporting cast is cookie cutter archetypes, and just play as colorful noise upon an artful masterpiece.

When it comes to the direction of the story, you see it is flair clouted around a standard theme of a heist film.  The flair to this common theme is that there is a ‘world of magic’ combined with the heists.  In the first act, all four magicians are shown as common street performers, which are secretly brought together for a common goal.   After this generic setup, it moves forward a year, as the four become the Four Horseman, and begin laying the traps in their tricks.   From here, the shows are all intriguing, and the ‘cat and mouse’ game becomes the chuck of the story.  In this, you have an interesting but average experience.  Between the magic shows and unfolding heists, you witness car chases, befuddled cops, some dramatic and action scenes, along with many other scenarios that leads you to see that they are trying too hard to forge some seriousness when there isn’t enough ‘depth’ in the characters or story to add enough substance.  Even in the lack of substance, each trick the four perform leads to a bigger mystery, and as much as the FBI is trying to figure it out, the audience is also plagued with the guessing game.  This guessing is intriguing, as you witness its appeal towards magical elements, tricks and the layers of a magician’s code.  For all the standard material used to move the movie along a mediocre theme, the magical aspect is what keeps the allure in the film.  With this, you have that ‘child-like’ feeling as you’re amused and awed by some of the spectacle you see being performed.  This appeal becomes a blind to what the film is, when it reaches its climax.  In this final act of the movie, the four put on their final show.  This show is an ‘over the top’ spectacle, which glorifies the ideas of ‘twists’, that it makes you feel dumb that you have fallen for the biggest trick in the movie.  When the truth is revealed, you will either love or loathe it (as I said in the beginning).  The ending is lukewarm, but it makes you think even if you don’t like it.

The visuals of the film are amazing and clichéd at best.  The amazing parts are the magical tricks and stages, as you become ‘engrossed’ in the set pieces, that you feel as if you’re there.  Outside of this, the clichéd ‘modern’ setting as well as the environments used for the drama and ‘heist’ scenes are not unique, but helps move the film along.  Score is irrelevant to this film, but it is there.

Overall, Now You See has enough thrills and unique elements that you’ll be entertained.  If you keep your focus on the thrills of the magical show and ‘what is boiling’ under those layers, you’ll enjoy this film.  Decent characters and formidable script, I recommend this as a good outing for a family, even if it’s average at best.

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