When the year started, I hadn’t heard of Now You See Me, had no intention of watching it, wasn’t even interested. A few weeks ago though, I watched a trailer for the film and I got intrigued, I’m interested in the whole magic scene and it has a brilliant cast. My thoughts on the film, I really enjoyed it, but there are some flaws.
The plot of the film involves a group of street magicians being brought together to perform a series of shows in which they steal from large companies/banks and give that money back to the people in a Robin Hood-esque scheme. Now the idea of a group of bank robbing magicians is a brilliant one and I’m surprised that there haven’t been more films to take advantage of it and, in the first two acts, the film really has fun with this. The first two acts are incredibly entertaining, filled with funny dialogue, great setup and just a brilliant sense of fun, the highlight being one of the magic shows which, although making it predictable what will happen later on, is just a fun scene. There is also a great respect for magic and a brilliant show for some of the tricks, especially one at the start of the film which was filmed in such a way so that the audience picks the right card.
However, the final act of the film is the most problematic in that it gets a little bit too focused on the action, losing sight of the magic of the film, for lack of a better term. There is also a twist ending of the film which can be seen as coming out of nowhere and is the main factor affecting whether or not the film has staying power in the future. I don’t know about the twist yet as I need to rewatch it to see if it makes sense fully but, looking back on it, it feels like it works, although it feels like there are some aspects of the ending that are just brought out of nowhere
The best aspect of the film though is the cast, although there are some problems, the main one being that it feels like Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Michael Caine are a bit wasted. The other actors though more than make up for this. Mark Ruffalo as Dylan really sells just how in over his head he is and how he is constantly being played the fool by all the other characters and has a great chemistry with Melanie Laurent, who is brilliant as the Interpol agent transitioning from the desk to the field, clearly being very capable in the role, but this goes downhill in the third act when she just becomes the love interest. Morgan Freeman meanwhile, while being saddled with most of the exposition in the film really makes it work simply by virtue of being Morgan Freeman and his character could come across as really annoying if it wasn’t for the natural charm from Freeman. The standouts though are Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, they get all the best dialogue in the film, have the best delivery and just have the most fun, with special mention going to Eisenberg as he just goes all in as Atlas, going through all the arrogance, the egotistical nature and the fast dialogue which made him so good in The Social Network.
The technical side of the film is a mixed bag. Louis Leterrier’s direction is a bit hit and miss, along with the editing and cinematography. During the magic acts, all these elements are excellently handled but during action and dialogue scenes, it gets a little bit boring, too focused on shakey-cam and close ups. The music meanwhile is just forgettable and doesn’t really add a lot to the overall quality of the film. I will reiterate though. during the magic acts and the magic debunkments, the technical aspects of the film blend brilliantly with the script and acting to create some really fun scenes.
Overall, I really enjoyed Now You See Me. Most of the problems I have related to the technical side are just nitpicks and, while I think Fisher, Franco and Caine were wasted, they didn’t give bad performances. There are certainly more positive elements in the film than there are negative ones with the only real problems coming in during the final act. That said though, the first 2 acts of the film provide some of the most fun I’ve had in the cinema this year, with a great mix of witty dialogue, a brilliant premise and great performances from Ruffalo, Eisenberg and Harrelson.
My Rating: 4/5