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Review: Now You See Me

May. 31, 2013by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Four middling magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, & Dave Franco) are brought together by a mysterious benefactor. Now calling themselves The Four Horsemen, theyre brought to the attention of Interpol and the FBI when, using magic, they manage to rob a bank in France while performing in Las Vegas. Now, a cynical, disbelieving FBI agent, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) must team with a rookie Interpol investigator (Melanie Laurent) and a famous magic debunker, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to determine whether or not the Horsemen actually are thieves, and whether or not they really are magic.

REVIEW: NOW YOU SEE ME is a movie Ive been looking forward to since the first trailer dropped a few months ago. I mean bank-robbing magicians- how has this not been done before? The trailer promised a big, flashy caper done on a huge scale, and the first-class cast inspired confidence. I also like director Louis Leterrier, who, although he stumbled with CLASH OF THE TITANS, pulled off a perfectly decent INCREDIBLE HULK movie a few years ago, not to mention the first two TRANSPORTERS and UNLEASHED. So when NOW YOU SEE ME moved to a prime piece of summer movie real estate a few months ago, I was game.

Now having finally seen the finished film, it mostly delivered what I was expecting, in that it was fun and flashy and didnt take itself too seriously. However, I have to admit that Im a little disappointed in the approach Leterrier and his writers (Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt) ended up taking. While the trailers make the Four Horsemen out to be the stars, in the movie itself theyre only supporting characters, with none of them, not even top-billed Jesse Eisenberg having all that much screen time.

Rather, this is squarely Mark Ruffalos show, and while that would usually be a good thing (hes a great actor) he also happens to play the most boring character in the film. So much time is spent following the almost-cartoonishly dogged Ruffalo around (complete with rumpled shirts, stubble, a loosened tie, and the occasional class of Jack Daniels- if this was the eighties he would have been chain-smoking) as he continually gets things explained to him by Freeman and Laurent, that it robs the film of a lot of momentum.

I get why this was done, as it allows the movie to unfold in a way that when the horsemen are performing youre not sure of whats going to come next, and then the so-called smoke and mirrors is pulled back and you can see exactly how the tricks were done. Thats all well and good, but I cant help but think NOW YOU SEE ME would have been a lot more fun if wed been in on the capers with the Horsemen the whole time. As it is, NOW YOU SEE ME becomes too much of a standard chase film, and it doesnt help that Ruffalos character is easily the least interesting in the film.

Despite my disappointment with the direction the film ended up going in, I still had a pretty good time with NOW YOU SEE ME. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and (especially) Isla Fisher make for a likable gang of bank-robbing magicians. Despite their limited screen time, each manages to at least create some kind of personality, with Eisenberg being the egotistical one, Harrelson the one with a past (being a disgraced former David Copperfield type), Fisher the one who wants to be taken seriously and used as more than just eye candy, and Franco the young one with a chip on his shoulder. This is all very standard for a caper film, but it works well enough, and their group dynamic is good. Michael Caine shows up for a smallish part as the billionaire entrepreneur bankrolling their act thats not overly concerned with their larcenous magic, but seems happy theyre selling seats. By this point Caine can play a scoundrel in his sleep, and he still has that twinkle in his eye that lets you know hes not phoning it in. Morgan Freeman also seems to be having fun as the Amazing Randi style debunker, who seems to be the only one who has any idea of what the Horsemen are up to.

Leterrier, like in his TRANSPORTER films, keeps the movie running along at a nice quick clip although other than a brief fight scene/car chase, the film is a little light on action. I still feel like he would have been able to direct a more exciting film had the focus been on the Horsemen rather than on Ruffalo (with a romantic subplot with Melanie Laurent that doesnt really work), but he still puts together a light, entertaining film.

All in all, NOW YOU SEE ME is a pretty solid 100 minutes of entertainment, although I cant help but be disappointed that it followed such a conventional cops and robbers procedural style for most of the film, and it would have been a lot more fun to have spent the running time with the robbers rather than the cops. Still, its worth checking out.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:59AM on 05/31/2013

I remember an episode of Batman TAS...

... Zatanna makes some bank money disappear if I remember correctly, and then she can't make it reappear because someone used the trick to really steal it.
... Zatanna makes some bank money disappear if I remember correctly, and then she can't make it reappear because someone used the trick to really steal it.
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4:37AM on 05/31/2013
Good catch, that was a really good episode. It's also before they established Zatanna as having actual magical powers.
Good catch, that was a really good episode. It's also before they established Zatanna as having actual magical powers.
12:33AM on 05/31/2013
I sorta feel bummed out that the film isn't about the what the film is supposed to be about. Just seeing the trailers and all just seemed like it would be about Eisenberg and company. The trailers played it as that. Hurm... Not sure about this one. But I will be definitely seeing this over After Earth.
I sorta feel bummed out that the film isn't about the what the film is supposed to be about. Just seeing the trailers and all just seemed like it would be about Eisenberg and company. The trailers played it as that. Hurm... Not sure about this one. But I will be definitely seeing this over After Earth.
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7:41AM on 05/31/2013

it's well... I dunno... (no spoilers)

Saw the movie yesterday, and I still don't know whether or not if I liked it. On one hand it is a fun caper movie with a lot of great action sequences, interesting character dynamic (Harreleson and Eisenberg have nearly the same chemistry as they did in zombieland), and an original story. Fisher is fun to watch, but like Chris said, she's pretty much eye candy in the movie. Loved the interaction between MIchael Caine and Morgan Freeman as well even though they are pretty much playing themselves
Saw the movie yesterday, and I still don't know whether or not if I liked it. On one hand it is a fun caper movie with a lot of great action sequences, interesting character dynamic (Harreleson and Eisenberg have nearly the same chemistry as they did in zombieland), and an original story. Fisher is fun to watch, but like Chris said, she's pretty much eye candy in the movie. Loved the interaction between MIchael Caine and Morgan Freeman as well even though they are pretty much playing themselves as a millionaire/magician.

On the other hand, on some levels the plot doesn't make a damn lick of sense and the character motives are questionable at times. The exclusion of a certain character at about the midway point in the film makes no friggin sense, The reason behind the magicians doing the crimes and the execution of the climax raises several obvious plot hole questions that need to be answered and are ignored for some odd reason. Ruffalo's cop character isn't very interesting at all throughout even with a forced love interest thrown in.

Overall, I was happy with the movie, it was very entertaining but I wish it would have taken a different direction from Ruffalo's cop character and more towards the 4 Horsemen. I was expecting something else (more of an oceans 11 meets magicians kind of thing) but got this instead, i agree with Mr. Bumbray on this movie 6/10
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1:21AM on 05/31/2013

"Dave" Franco, not Max

You're too good to be making rookie mistakes with actor names, CBum.
You're too good to be making rookie mistakes with actor names, CBum.
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3:50AM on 05/31/2013
Whoops- typo. Thanks for the heads-up!
Whoops- typo. Thanks for the heads-up!
11:02AM on 05/31/2013
Was hoping for a better review!
Was hoping for a better review!
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3:59AM on 05/31/2013
Just watching the trailer makes me think Morgan Freeman is the mastermind behind it all
Just watching the trailer makes me think Morgan Freeman is the mastermind behind it all
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+1
12:39AM on 06/03/2013
I mostly agree, but I would probably give it a 7 instead. It was a lot of fun with a great cast and I actually really liked Ruffalo. I also thought the story was well done and well played out.
I mostly agree, but I would probably give it a 7 instead. It was a lot of fun with a great cast and I actually really liked Ruffalo. I also thought the story was well done and well played out.
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1:32AM on 05/31/2013
Looking forward to this. A 6/10 isn't bad and is what I was expecting for this film. It is a good point about this film becoming too much of a standard chase movie, but that cast absolutely has my attention.
Looking forward to this. A 6/10 isn't bad and is what I was expecting for this film. It is a good point about this film becoming too much of a standard chase movie, but that cast absolutely has my attention.
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12:59PM on 06/02/2013

Ignore this post, please.

My review in this comment box is completely bonkers. The movie is much more entertaining and fun than I gave it credit for. My mistake! D:

:Previous score was a 6.4/10. After a second viewing, though, and less of my mind veering into The Prestige territory, I raise it to an 8.7/10.

Super fun, super entertaining, super funny at points, and very interesting. :)
My review in this comment box is completely bonkers. The movie is much more entertaining and fun than I gave it credit for. My mistake! D:

:Previous score was a 6.4/10. After a second viewing, though, and less of my mind veering into The Prestige territory, I raise it to an 8.7/10.

Super fun, super entertaining, super funny at points, and very interesting. :)
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3:13PM on 05/31/2013
shame the main focus wasn't on the Four Horsemen, I love a good heist film & illusionists are definitely guilty pleasure, i might wait & blind buy it since thats a pretty damn solid cast.
shame the main focus wasn't on the Four Horsemen, I love a good heist film & illusionists are definitely guilty pleasure, i might wait & blind buy it since thats a pretty damn solid cast.
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8:19AM on 05/31/2013
I was sort of expecting it to be around 7/8 out of 10.
I was sort of expecting it to be around 7/8 out of 10.
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1:33AM on 05/31/2013
On and who's Max Franco?
On and who's Max Franco?
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3:50AM on 05/31/2013
Dave! Whoops- silly typo on my part. My bad!
Dave! Whoops- silly typo on my part. My bad!
3:50AM on 05/31/2013
Dave! Whoops- silly typo on my part. My bad!
Dave! Whoops- silly typo on my part. My bad!
8:46AM on 05/31/2013
He's James Franco's younger brother
He's James Franco's younger brother
1:32AM on 05/31/2013
Surprised that the Four Horsemen are supporting characters rather than main characters. It looks like a fun time at the movies where the movie won't be TOO serious.
Surprised that the Four Horsemen are supporting characters rather than main characters. It looks like a fun time at the movies where the movie won't be TOO serious.
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