Now You See Me

7.5 Overall Score
Plot: 8/10
Characters: 7/10
Appeal: 8/10

The film flourishes thanks to a fabulous allotment of entertaining tricks, thrills, and surprises.

Despite a great cast, the characters aren't developed enough, and the story lacks emotional appeal.

Seven years ago, the line “Are you watching closely?” echoed through Christopher Nolan’s magnificent magic-themed film The Prestige. While it was definitely easy to miss the movie’s deepest secrets by not being overly observant, Now You See Me, the newest flick from Louis Leterrier, demonstrates the problem of examining a magic trick too close: you might miss what’s actually making it work. And that’s just what makes Now You See Me work. If you think you can decipher the illusions, you may realize you were too distracted by the trick itself to figure it out. If you think you can outwit the plot, you might just find yourself one step behind. Despite its overly flashy feel and lacking emotional substantiality, the beauty of magic is brought out through this film’s witty, charming attraction, making it a worthwhile summer blockbuster.

Now You See Me - Promo 2The story begins with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, and Isla Fisher, four magicians with a variety of talents that range from mentalism to thievery to illusions, coming together to perform a show in Las Vegas as the “Four Horseman.” As one of their acts, they rob a bank. A detective, played by Mark Ruffalo, is put on the case, and the movie turns into a game of cat-and-mouse as the Four Horseman attempt to continue robbing banks and escape the forces of the law. Just like The Prestige, though, there are a lot of twists and turns, and many reveals that may surprise the audience. Although some of the plot events seem a bit forced and the backstory is a bit of a stretch, it all comes together for a fun escape from the real world in this heist-meets-magic thrill ride.

One of the main things Now You See Me and The Prestige have in common is not only their twists, tricks, and turns, but also the ability to take advantage of Hollywood and make magic real. In Now You See Me, there are a boatload of fictional elements, from holograms to human-sized bubbles to an high amount of hypnotism that feels more fake and silly than anything (I mean, only 10% of the population is extremely suggestible, right?). At times it almost feels like Leterrier threw in some of these items just for show. But I mean, magic and movies are supposed to be a form of entertainment, right? If the high amount of lens glare, nauseating camera shots, and preposterous demands of the plot and script aren’t enough to detract from the fun time that Now You See Me assures, then the film is certainly one of the year’s best adventures. Because while the execution isn’t quite at 100%, it’s done well enough to enliven the viewer and give them a reason to watch it again and see what they didn’t catch the first time around. Leterrier pays attention to detail, and many things may not catch the eye right away because the viewer may have been paying too close attention to the story that unravels infront of them. Like the film demonstrates, the more you think you see, the easier it’ll be to fool you.

Now You See Me - Promo 1With a fantastic cast that gives the film a ton of appeal and the small amount of heart that it encapsulates, Now You See Me boasts a bit of versatility. Harrelson and Eisenberg couldn’t be more distant as far as their personalities go, and little Franco (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors) steals the show in the middle of the film with an incredible fight sequence where he gives Ruffalo quite the pounding. And his main weapon? A deck of cards. As if this film wasn’t already entertaining enough, charming scenes like that make the film more than just a typical adventure movie. The characters are likable, the tricks are unsettling, and the reveals are mind-busting. However, while it succeeds in entertainment value, the lasting value and emotional potency is elsewhere. This is where it misses the same timelessness as The Prestige. We see a love story between Eisenberg and Fisher that never really takes flight, and there is a lack of a backstory to show the perspective of the Four Horseman. In addition, the script could’ve been stronger. It was funny, but it could’ve been hilarious. Although there is a lot going on in Now You See Me, there isn’t enough realness to the characters and their motives to make the film feel completely veritable.

Now You See Me is clearly going to be the best film about magic to come out in 2013, and may end up as one of the year’s best heist flicks. A great cast, a bucket full of surprises, and a high level of fun make this film worth seeing in the theater. While it may suffer from a few plot holes and a lack of resonance with its audience, Now You See Me is still an adventure worth experiencing. It takes a grandiose concept and manages to further increase the magic behind it, adding some style and flashiness that comes with the Vegas showgoing experience. And for those who don’t get the chance to attend magic shows every day, this film is certainly worthwhile. It may not be of Prestige-status, but Now You See Me is still a near-superb magic-themed heist film.


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Author: Tim Dodderidge View all posts by
I'm a student at the University of Kansas hoping to major in journalism. I love Christopher Nolan films, eating at Taco Bell, and playing indoor soccer. I also like to watch How I Met Your Mother and enjoy writing poetry.

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