Thursday, September 12, 2013


Now You See Me

Directed by Louis Leterrier
Written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt

     I was not expecting much from Louis Leterrier's Now You See Me and I did not get much either. I never felt lost or that the script was crafty like I was hoping for, but it was fairly easy to pick out the surprises and there was little to no suspense of any kind in the film. There were a few points in the film that I did not mind, a Robin Hood-esque steal from the rich and give to the poor or financially abused, that was pretty good. The real problem lies in too many terrible shots, two main actors that appeared to be very uncomfortable, especially during the big magic events and the overall attempt at trying to be clever when the film was easy to pick apart. At least it had a talented cast, albeit wasted, and was a diversion from much of the superhero and CGI-laden films of the summer, even though there was CGI here too. The overall result was one that left me wanting to stop watching after about fifteen minutes.
     "The Four Horsemen," as these illusionists are called, perform magic tricks on huge, arena filled audiences and at the same time steal money from banks and the wealthy. They are a sensation because they give the money to the audience and let the wealthy wallow in the anger of being had. It is, however, odd that they keep so little for themselves. I guess they get a percentage of the shows growth, so they can afford to give back. The four horsemen include magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), illusionist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and con-artist/fighter Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). These four are hand-picked by a hooded ring leader, not shown to the audience, assigning them to put on shows that are covers for the actual robberies they are conducting. A facade to hide the real identity of what they are doing. A double whammy for the magicians and artists. The FBI is involved, knowing that these four are up to no good and agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) keeps getting closer and closer, but loses his hold and some of his sanity in his relentless search for what these performers are really doing. 
     The four performers have three different events, one in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Brooklyn, where they perform magical shows and, at the same time, steal from the rich and give back to those attending these lavish shows. The one in New Orleans is the best one in that they give back to victims who were robbed by insurance big wigs after Hurricane Katrina. Favorite, and only, good part in the film. There are also supporting turns and most likely the best acting in the film, from a DVD pioneer that unveils magicians tricks Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a French INTERPOL agent assisting Rhodes in the search Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) and Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) who financially funds the four horsemen and there events or shows. Three immensely talented actors that were wasted on a meandering, unclever script and lackluster direction from Leterrier, who also directed the boring Hollywood films The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans remake. 
     There are many problems with this film, mainly the attempt at writing a clever script that simply was too easy to pick at and solve the mystery of who was the hooded leader. There were definite hints along the way, especially in the way one of the actors performed and appeared. I am not a screenwriter and give credit to Solomon, Yakin and Ricourt for writing and I know it is a difficult task and there is no way I could probably do it, but it just did not work for me at all. Another issue was that Eisenberg and Fisher felt so out of place throughout most of the film. At the three big shows they seemed literally nervous and uncomfortable. It was a little too stiff and flat of a performance, even though in scenes where they were just talking or going through day-to-day doings, they were more natural and ok. They are performers and should show comfort and confidence as Franco and Harrelson did and I just did not see that in them. By the way, Franco has a fight scene that was also pretty decent and fast paced. The bigger issues were Leterrier's swooping camera and billions of shots from above. So annoying and distracting. It was a little disorienting and felt as if it had little purpose for the story other than showing the larger than life spectacle these performers were doing on a grand scale. I just did not like it.
     Now You See Me has an impressive, all-star cast, I am sure some decent paychecks and fun set pieces for the actors, but the overall result is middling and uneventful. Less widescreen, swooping shots and a more detailed screenplay would have made it more interesting. There are a few surprises along the way, but none that go without obvious tips and hints during the process. Yes, this film felt like a long, two hour process to sit through. You should be able to figure the film out and see through its plot holes rather quickly. I have read they are making a sequel to this film since it made over $117 million and it is more proof that Hollywood is sinking slower and slower. Anything that makes over a $100 million and sequels are automatically in the work. This movie was at least new but do we really need another one of these films. I do not think so. 

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