June 04, 2013

Now You See Me

In Now You See Me, four magicians have crafted a masterful bank-robbing caper that keeps the FBI (represented here by an agent named Dylan Rhodes, who's played by Mark Ruffalo) on its toes. It's certainly an impressively grandiose film, with an enormous cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco are the magicians; Melanie Laurent plays a French Interpol agent; Michael Caine plays an investor who's backing the magicians; and Morgan Freeman plays an ex-magician who's been making a new career revealing the secrets behind the magic tricks.

It's an entertaining movie, to be sure. The tricks are dazzling and the story holds you, sometimes even mesmerizes you, and it's funny. The problem is that ultimately it's another caper film, mixed with the plot of an NCIS or Law and Order episode writ large for the big screen. Nothing here is particularly new or innovative, except for the excessive cleverness of the tricks themselves, but it's hard to be impressed by anything in movies anymore when most of the stunts and other feats are performed by a computer.

That leaves us with the talented cast and the undernourished characters: the four magicians are reduced to stock treatment, which means we get Jesse Eisenberg's usual schtick: he speaks too fast and exhibits that same untempered arrogance he had when he played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Woody Harrelson never plays anyone but himself, but at least he's likable: the dumb-on-the-outside but sharp-on-the-inside cowboy. Only Ruffalo and Laurent, whose relationship develops the more they're thrown together by the investigation, have much room to grow, and the writers--Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, and Edward Riccourt--tend to cliches, such as a budding but suppressed romance.

Louis Leterrier's direction is sure-footed enough though. He's intent on showing us a good time, and for the most part he succeeds. Watching Now You See Me is like watching really entertaining trash on TV: no one is likely to remember it a year from now, but it's a welcome diversion from all the other summer fodder, which involve superheroes and the like. 115 min.


Dan O. said...

The stacked-cast is good with what they do, but the movie’s less concerned about them, and more about the twists and turns of the story. Most of which, don’t make much sense. Nice review Jacob.

pannedreview said...

Yeah, you are right about the twists not making much sense. My general policy of late is not to worry about coherency (there's so little of that in movies these days), because it never seems to matter by the end. Perhaps I'm too cynical.

Thanks for posting, Dan.