I love magic. I always have. If you suspend your disbelief that magic’s not real (kind of like wrestling), it can take you to a wonderful place, a place where that rabbit really did get pulled from some pocket dimension inside a top hat or that the Statue of Liberty really did disappear. It’s wonderful.
From the first time I saw the trailer for Now You See Me, there was a lot to like. It had a small but diverse ensemble consisting of Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman. If that’s not enough to entice, there’s no joy in your lives. And on top of that, the first four actors I listed play magicians who rob banks using magic and give the money to the less-fortunate.
Between my love of magic and my love of all those actors (and Common too!), I went in with very high hopes. Could the real trick be getting my hopes up only to disappoint, or do they pull a hit out of the hat? You’ll just have to read on to find out!
Now You See Me
Director: Louis Letterier
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Now You See Me follows four solo-act magicians (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher, and Franco), who were all assembled by a mystery person with an affectation for tarot cards to perform a series of elaborate tricks illusions that involve a Robin Hood-like schtick of taking money that doesn’t belong to them and giving it to people who, for one reason or another, deserve it. Mark Ruffalo plays a really grumpy FBI agent saddled with a cute French Interpol desk jockey (Mélanie Laurent), and the two of them are tasked with tracking down and arresting the magical quartet. Michael Caine plays the guy who put the money behind their performances, who quickly finds himself on the short end of the stick when he too falls victim to their mysterious master plan, and enlists the help of magician debunker Morgan Freeman to get what they took from him. Lots of twists and turns follow over the course of the film’s 116-minute run-time, and each one of them kept me on the edge of my seat.
I won’t take up your precious time by telling you how good each individual actor is, because on the whole, their performances being far above average would be redundant. When’s the last time Woody Harrelson didn’t deliver? Do you really doubt Caine or Freeman’s prowess? The only person to really talk about is Dave Franco. he gets side-lined a little bit on account of standing next to all those huge names, but even he brings it. He hasn’t really gotten any roles yet with which to display his chops, but he was certainly not a weak link by any stretch of the imagination. There is one scene, however, where he really gets to shine as he goes head-to-head, literally, with Ruffalo’s character, and it’s awesome.
The film is really, really stylish. From the get-go, when it introduces each of the magicians and their different abilities (Eisenberg’s sleight-of-hand , Harrelson’s mentalism, Fisher’s escape artistry, and Franco’s…well, he can throw cards like Gambit, I guess?), the movie just oozes flashy, light-hearted fun. Louis Leterrier did a great job of keeping the film, and the characters, moving, with the kooky quartet always a step ahead of the increasingly more grumpy Ruffalo.
Speaking of Ruffalo, the way I saw this film is he is very much the Clouseau of the film, and even though he’s the antagonist of the ‘main’ characters, you could view him as the main character himself. It’s almost like two movies in one, depending on how you look at it, and that is very fitting with the whole film’s theme of looking closely.
In the end, Now You See Me is one of the year’s most fun movies. It’s got action, comedy, magic, a little bit of romance (but nowhere near enough to shift focus off of the main plot), and a really great mystery. Also, it’s a bunch of talented, attractive people chasing each other around for two hours while doing magic! I don’t know what more you could ask for.
Well…a sequel, maybe.