Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Now You See Me: Not as Magical as It Looked

Last December my roommates and I found a trailer online for an upcoming movie. After watching the trailer, we all had pretty high hopes for Now You See Me.

It looked exciting! Sleight of hand trickery, magic shows, Alfred Michael Caine, and Lucius Fox Morgan Freeman! This HAD to be good!
Unfortunately, Louis Leterrier's Now You See Me didn't quite live up to the expectations I had.
There were a lot of things I did like about the movie, but certain parts of the story felt out of place or were under-developed and resolved too quickly causing the movie to fizzle out a bit.
First off, I thought the overall storyline was great. Four talented magicians brought together by a mysterious unknown benefactor to use their skills in sleight of hand and manipulation to steal money from a successful insurance company. FBI and Interpol soon get involved trying to arrest the "Four Horsemen" and recover the stolen cash. Okay, sounds pretty good so far.
Most of the movie turns into figuring out who this benefactor actually is. Is it Freeman's former magician turned magical sell-out? Or Caine's insurance magnate doing some publicity stunt? Does the mysterious boss of the magicians actually exist?
But then the heist and mystery story gets tainted. A completely useless romance between Mark Ruffalo's FBI agent and Mélanie Laurent's Interpol detective gets thrown into the mix. Now, the heist movie has bits and pieces that could easily be pulled out of a chick flick.
With this new plot element, the film struggled balancing the development of the four magicians' three act crime spree and the slowly budding relationship of the angry FBI agent and the Interpol detective.
Oh, and there's a secret brotherhood of magicians and tricksters that dates back to ancient Egypt that you learn almost nothing about. Where was the explanation and development on that aspect of the story? It's far more interesting than watching Ruffalo and Laurent flirt.
Moving on from the plot, I felt that just about every other aspect of the movie was good. Like the visual effects. They were fun and make some of the unbelievable tricks pulled off by the Four Horsemen a little more believable. From magicians floating around rooms in bubbles to jumping off the roof of a building and turning into a giant cloud of cash, the special effects made those tricks what they were.
And some of the characters are actually pretty funny. Jesse Eisenberg's Daniel Atlas is a cocky magician who thinks he is the best and his controlling nature drove away one of his former partners. Kind of like if Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network went to magic camp instead of Harvard and tried to saw the Winklevi in half. And Woody Harrelson's metanlist/mind-reader is a sarcastically blunt character who easily pries himself into your brain and makes you laugh.
Overall, I think Now You See Me is a very enjoyable movie, just not as good as I originally hoped it would be. If you're looking for roughly two hours of fun, I recommend seeing it. If you're looking for the next greatest addition to modern cinema, don't.

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