To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect going into Now You See Me. When it was in theaters I remember someone telling me that it had to do with people robbing banks with special teleportation technology with the cover story of them being magicians, that being an odd and -in my opinion- kind of stupid idea I decided not to go see it, I should have.
The movie follows four magicians, played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco, who while successful in their own rights are kind of lost in the world of professional magic. None of them really have the feeling of purpose they are seeking, they simply have their talents and egos to back them up. Soon they all end up having one thing in common to bring them together, each one of them receives a mysterious summons in the form of a Tarot card. The card directs them to a random apartment where they all hope to find the purpose they were missing. Inside is a mysterious symbol carved in the floor which soon fills with water and spreads a mist across the apartment floor, soon projectors from around the room display a mysterious blueprint of a machine -oddly looking like a teleportation device – and information on a new magic venture of which they have to be a part of.
Now You See Me then takes us on a wild ride; it combines the feelings of the Illusionist, the Prestige, Oceans 11 (modern version), and an FBI detective story into a story that is extremely fun to take part in. The magicians, now calling themselves the Four Horsemen, perform a series of stage acts the first of which is to rob a French bank while on stage in Las Vegas in front of a full crowd of people, and then proceed to rain the stolen money down on the crowd. This obviously grabs a bit of attention from both the FBI and Interpol; thus enters Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent as an FBI and Interpol agents hell bent on figuring out how the Four Horsemen pulled off this heist and stopping them from pulling off another. The movie follows the pattern of going back and forth showing the Four Horsemen preparing for the next stage of their plans and the agents trying to figure out what that next move is.
The movie also has another really interesting character, played by Morgan Freeman, whose sole purpose is to expose and debunk magicians and their tricks, thus leading to the particular magician’s ruin. The Four Horsemen obviously present an amazing opportunity for him to make a lot of money on his show and DVD sales. Freeman’s character used to be a magician but wasn’t ever able to make it in the big leagues, so now he just does this, revealing other magicians secrets. This cast of characters pursuing the Four Horseman really helps to draw you into the adventure to figure out how they pulled off all of their crazy heists and tricks, and all the hints are there in the movie, so you don’t have to have any prior knowledge to figure things out.
The film has a good pace and is very consistent in its intrigue. There are some parts where the chemistry between characters seems forced or the lines end up being really cheesy, but overall the characters are likable and interesting. While none of the performances stand out in particular, all the actors seemed to have a lot of fun being part of this interesting story. The cinematography is fitting for a modern magician Oceans 11 type film, but being about magic I kind of missed the stylized look of the Illusionist and the Prestige. Throughout the film the characters perform a variety of tricks/illusions which are all very cool – first of which is a teleportation trick – but sadly not all of them are practical tricks. Many tricks/illusions are done using CG which is a little disappointing, but I think the goal with these was to make us doubt whether these are just simple tricks or illusions and are possibly real magic.
Now You See Me is a ride that I was definitely not expecting to enjoy. While not as artistic or dramatic as The Illusionist or The Prestige, it stands out on its own as a modern magician film. It is definitely worth seeing, and it was fun enough that I am considering adding it to my to buy list since it came out recently.