Is it just me, or has this movie kind of flown under the radar? Surrounded by big, much-advertised summer films, Now You See Me seems to have gotten lost in the fray. But I distinctly remember getting excited about the trailer when I first saw it. With names like Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, and Mark Ruffalo on the cast list, it’s certainly a film that catches your attention. Throw in the fact that it’s about thieving magicians, and heck yeah I wanted to check it out.
So. All-star cast? Check. Cool crime/magic premise? Check. Bringing it all together with an awesome script and well-developed characters? Well…not quite. Still, this film is definitely fun.
Synopsis: “An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: Like I said, this film is fun. It’s fast-paced and filled to the brim with clever, Vegas-quality tricks. For much of the film, you might even feel like you’ve taken a trip to Vegas all for the price of one little movie ticket. Ah, the magic of the movies. Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about magic tricks or magicians, but the film as a whole seems like a tribute to this classic form of entertainment that continues to stump so many of us. Though it could come off as cheesy, the film balances things out by presenting many scenes through the perspective of Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), the FBI agent tasked with figuring out how the magicians are pulling off their elaborate, illegal tricks. The combination of flashy magic and crime-solving is definitely enjoyable. Plus, there’s the overarching mystery of who brought the magicians together and why, which may very well leave you guessing until the end. Favorite scene: It’s a toss-up. The magicians’ first two shows, which include some pretty nifty tricks, are very entertaining, but there’s also a great scene where Agent Rhodes takes the magicians in for questioning and gets a smidge overwhelmed when they turn the tables on him.
The Bad: Though a fast pace is appropriate for this type of film, it’s so fast-paced that we really don’t get to know much about the characters—particularly the magicians. The first ten minutes of the film introduce us to their specialties and reveal a teensy bit of their histories. After that, we really don’t get anything. There are a few scenes of witty banter between them, but there isn’t much in the way individual character development, and the group dynamic evolves over a period of time that the audience doesn’t get to see. This is especially disappointing because the actors are so great. Why would you cast Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg and not show off their acting chops? Least favorite scene: Call me bitter, heartless, or all of the above, but unnecessary and barely developed movie romances bug me. Unfortunately, this movie has one of them. Tough-as-nails and stubborn FBI guy meets equally tough-as-nails and stubborn Interpol detective. First, sparks of hate. An hour-and-a-half later, sparks of love as they gaze into one another’s eyes and lean in for that magical first kiss…Ugh. Stop it, Hollywood.
To Sum It Up: Is this movie especially unique or ground-breaking? No. But I stick by my original assertion that it’s a lot of fun. Character development may fall by the wayside, but the actors still do a good job in their roles, and the story is still interesting enough that it will hold your attention. If you’re a fan of films like Ocean’s Eleven or The Usual Suspects, I’d definitely recommend a matinee showing of Now You See Me.
My Grade: B