Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Movie Review: Now You See Me

Four street performer illusionists are recruited for a mysterious assignment. A year later, they're nationally famous illusionists who rob banks during live performances, and give the money to the audiences. Eventually, they find themselves being chased by the FBI, Interpol, and a former magician-turned-magic-debunker.  It's a quick moving film with lots of twists, turns, and mystery.

Overall, Now You See Me is a fun film with a great cast that leaves you disappointed in the end.

On the positive side, the film is never boring. Between the mix of mystery, humor, action, spectacle, and an amazing cast, there's always something on screen to keep you entertained.  Oddly enough, one of the best scenes in the movie is a fight scene where one of the illusionists uses slight of hand and tricks to outmaneuver multiple FBI agents.

A quick glance at the films cast, and you know that this film has a stacked deck.  While everyone does a great job, they're playing safe roles.  Jesse Eisenberg plays the same oddly likable jerk he always plays. Morgan Freeman is his usual wise old man with wit and insight.  Most of these actors are playing such familiar parts, I almost wonder if any of these characters would be recognizable if they were played by a different actor.

On the negative side, the film's central gimmick, illusionists robbing banks in front of live audiences, doesn't really work. In real life, illusions entertain us because we're seeing something impossible happen. The mystery is part of the appeal. However, that appeal doesn't translate to film. In movies we watch the impossible all the time through special effects. The appeal of heist movies is watching the characters do something remarkable, and then revealing how they pulled it off.  In this film, initially they reveal the secrets of their heists, but as the film continues, they don't always explain the illusions. The best explanation for why they didn't explain the illusions is that there's no plausible explanation for what was just displayed. As much as the film wants us to have a sense of wonder and awe surrounding the illusions and the performers, it's hard to be in awe when you're not seeing an actual illusion.

Also, central to the plot of the film is a series of mysteries surrounding why the illusionists are doing what they're doing. Unfortunately, most of the big reveals don't really work.  The questions are far more interesting than the answers.  A good final act plot twist catches you off guard on first viewing, but seems obvious on second viewing.  I suspect with this film the plot twist will come off more preposterous upon second viewing.

Overall, I enjoyed the film, but it left me disappointed. The film benefits greatly from it's highly watchable cast.  If you're looking for a fast moving heist film and can forgive plot holes, this is a fun piece of escapism. However, if plot holes bother you, this film will likely highly frustrate you.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the film a 6.5

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