Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher, and Woody Harrelson in “Now You See Me”
Easily one of the better blockbusters to come out this summer, Now You See Me is an entertaining and fun filled thrill ride that has many twists and turns, that doesn’t let you come up for air until its final few frames. However, it does have one major twist in its climax that is a bit hard to swallow and lacks considerably in character development. All problems that are generally found in summer blockbusters, but this film sets itself apart in many ways all-the-while it is reminiscent of 21 and Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.
The film has a strong opening that displays its four magicians later dubbed “The Four Horseman” and focuses on their strengths. J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) the leader of the Horseman is an egotistical chauvinist that is always pulling off ridiculous sleight of hand tricks. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) Atlas’s former lover and assistant likes to drop into full tanks of water just as piranha threaten to eat her whole and turn up on the other side unscathed to surprise the audience. Woody Harrelson’s Merritt Mckinney is a mentalist that likes to scam folks out of their money and make sure they don’t remember any of it, while also trying to pick up on any woman that throws eyes his way. The final Horseman is Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) who is new to the game, but immediately becomes one of the crew when they are all invited to an apartment with some really cool water works.
The next time we see the Horseman they are performing live in Vegas for Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and during the show they have stolen twenty million euros and are giving it to the audience watching them. Suddenly, they are a standing ovation and the people watching them can’t get enough. Nevertheless a crime is a crime and FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is sent in to investigate, but the crime took place in Paris so Rhodes is buddied up with INTERPOL beauty Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent). Rhodes and Dray are dumbfounded at how such a stunt could have been pulled off, but alas there is Thadeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to answers the agents questions, but why? Is he a distraction for the Horseman? Or just looking for answers himself? We do discover later on that he’s made a millions off of debunking famous magician’s biggest and over-the-top tricks with a television show similar to that of Mythbusters.
Granted, this is all in good fun, but the characters lack any depth that they could have had in this magical thrill ride. Ruffalo and Laurent have amazing chemistry while Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are simply used as plot devices to further the storytelling. In theory it’s a great idea, but overall it doesn’t really help the narrative out all that much. We hang onto every scene with Laurent and Ruffalo while we forget about Freeman and Caine altogether. This may be a summer blockbuster, but it’s certainly a shame to see Oscar winning talent pushed aside for a story that could be showcasing their talents instead, as blockbusters of the past have done.
Now You See Me just might be Louis Leterrier’s best film yet, coming onto the scene directing action films like Transporter 2 and most recently for marvel The Incredible Hulk. All of which turned out to be box office success stories and as well as sequels to films that had audiences chomping at the bit for more. Now You See Me may not feature an A-list cast, but it certainly has one with all the potential in the world to breed up and coming A-listers.
Like any major movie Now You See Me does have its problems, but it’s clearly no surprise why it’s beating the will Smith and son sci-fi vehicle that is M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth at the box office. Now You See Me is certainly nothing new, but it definitely beats watching a sequel such as The Hangover part 3 or Star Trek: Into Darkness.