Now You See Me review
Could it really be magic?
Now You See Me is one of those nice, pleasant surprises that makes you feel good the whole time. In a weekend with the highly advertised Will & Jaden Smith/ M. Night Shyamalan collaboration After Earth, Now You See Me is the better choice for several reasons. The most prominent being the existence of an engaging, interesting and multi-dimensional plot — Now You See Me takes us all over the globe, following a variety of different characters as they steal from the rich and give to the poor. You could say that the characters played by Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland), Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers, Zombieland), Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby, “Arrested Development”) and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street, Warm Bodies) are modern day Robin Hoods to Mark Ruffalo’s (The Avengers, The Kids Are All Right) Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Michael Caine’s (The Dark Knight Rises, The Muppets Christmas Carol) Prince John. Go see the movie now just to double check that my analogy is accurate. And let it be said here first: no matter which new film you choose this weekend, it’ll likely be CGI heavy.
The similarities to Steven Soderburgh’s Ocean’s Eleven are obvious — the most primary being the cast. Although Now You See Me doesn’t contain the sheer name power of Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Roberts — the supporting roles of veteran actors and Academy Award-winners Michael Caine and Morgan Caine certainly give the film a sense of similar quality. This doesn’t mean any small names are involved in the cast of director Louis Letterier’s (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans) newest film. Academy award nominees Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson join starlet Isla Fisher and up-and-comer Dave Franco to form a magician posse called “The Four Horsemen,” who rob banks and safes to give back to those who need it. Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo and indie darling Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds, Beginners) play the law enforcement assigned to track down and uncover the evidence in order to pin The Four Horsemen to the crimes. Morgan Freeman yet again proves that when “South Park” is right, it’s right. Freeman’s role in the film is to literally explain what’s going on and to catch you up with what’s happening with a calm, cool voice. I expected that freckle to blossom any moment. Hopefully his role in Last Vegas will prove broader than his roles in Oblivion and Now You See Me. None of the characters really receive the opportunity to expand their roles as each of The Four Horsemen stick to their respective types: the old pro, the condescending jerk, the eager youngster and the pretty girl (I’ll let you guess who’s who). In fact, the only characters explored beyond the surface are that of the law enforcement’s (Ruffalo and Laurent).
Leterrier’s directing is solid, per usual. He’s recently come out during the publicity rounds for Now You See Me and pinned the poor 3D blame of 2010’s Clash of the Titans on Warner Bros. Each action scene, chase sequence and obvious-CGI magic trick (or illusion) beg for 3D, yet don’t contain a single frame of it. However, Leterrier keeps the film in a good, easy pace — the Four Horsemen perform a trick in a new city once for each of three acts as Ruffalo looks a step or two behind and Morgan Freeman seems a few steps ahead of the magicians.
Although the film doesn’t demand multiple viewings, it is entertaining and certainly more worthy of the price of admission than the bland After Earth. Familiar faces, big cities and spectacular magic stunts are a classic reminder of why we go to the movies: to get caught up in a good story. Any film that begs the question, “Is the magic real?” gets the green light in my book.