Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
Now You See Me focuses on four street magicians (Played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Isla Fisher) who are mysteriously brought together in order to pull off three elaborate magic shows. However the criminal nature of these acts gets the attention of an FBI agent (Played by Mark Ruffalo) and an Interpol agent (Played by Melanie Laurent) who proceed to engage in a race against time with, ‘The Four Horsemen’
Now You See Me is a silly, underdeveloped, desperate and stupid film. The screenplay is one with multiple hands on it and I cannot help but think, due to the cast this material attracted, that an initially intelligent screenplay was boiled down into an ultimately idiotic one. The characters are paper thin and nonexistent. The fact that these characters are not developed in the slightest is highlighted through ultimately awkward and out of place throwaway lines of dialogue, which suggest that attempts at development were cut from earlier drafts.
Having characters that only exist to propel a story is fine if your story is interesting and exciting. Now You See Me is neither of these things. I was quite frankly bored throughout much of Now You See Me as characters I knew nothing about and didn’t care for at all, were involved in a story that I also knew nothing about and didn’t care for at all. For the majority of this film I just didn’t care in the slightest, was given no reason to care and nothing whatsoever excited me. The story and film lost me and my interest not due to its complexity but due to its stupidity and vapidity. Looking back at the film I just find myself thinking, why? Motivations and stakes are nowhere to be found here.
It doesn’t help that such a script has been brought to the screen by Louis Leterrier, the director of such classic works as the remake of Clash of the Titans and, the darling of the Marvel cinematic universe, The Incredible Hulk. The chase scenes are quite poorly and messily directed with him also seeming to have no idea how to believably and seamlessly integrate computer-generated imagery into a psychical setting. The film lacks any energy or excitement and Leterrier’s pedestrian and poor visual approach accentuates this. The film also uneasily drifts between two different philosophies of portraying magic. Part of the film is taking the realistic, here is how it is all done, debunking method and explains some of the film’s tricks in a believable and enlightening manner. However in other movements, the film is almost like another Harry Potter entry, containing out of this world feats that are not and could not be explained. Are these guys real magicians? Are they con artists? Are they both? Like anything of interest in this film, such potentially juicy questions and ideas are not explored.
The performances are what keep this film alive and watchable however they are all one note. Jesse Eisenberg is essentially doing Mark Zuckerberg, the magician. With him having graduated his niche from nerdy awkward guy to nerdy cocky guy. Woody Harrelson is doing a slightly less funny version of his usual shtick. Isla Fisher is there to be eye candy and a potential love interest apparently, although along with Dave Franco, is really given nothing of note to do. Mark Ruffalo is doing the cop routine he perfected in Zodiac and Shutter Island, while Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are doing their old guy, here for the pay and to lend this film credibility and prestige, routine. None of the actors are challenging themselves in any way however because they are all reasonably likable and charismatic they get away with it. It is their presence and interactions, which gives this film the pulse it was otherwise missing and are the only moments when it comes something close to magic.
The film has a final twist, which, like a lot of the film, reeks of desperation as opposed to creativity. The extent to which you ‘saw it coming’ is not what makes a good twist folks. Yes, I didn’t see it coming and it was a surprise, but was it a nice surprise? Not really…instead of getting a ‘Oh NO WAY!’ reaction it got a ‘Oh, seriously?’ reaction. It was one that I doubt will hold up to repeat viewings and solidified the stupidity of the film. Like much of the story, it crumbles the more you think about it. This may be the stupidest film of the summer and the year. Yes, stupider than Fast & Furious 6 and World War Z.
Now You See Me is not a terrible film. It isn’t nor feels ridiculously long, the actors are all accomplished and watchable and the film is not without its well-done scenes or flickers of intrigue. However given the talent involved and potential of the, The Prestige meets Ocean’s Eleven set-up, this ranks alongside Oblivion as one of my biggest disappointments of the year. A rather overblown, misguided and muddled affair that becomes worse the more you think about it.
Movie Parliament Rating: FRINGE PARTY (What does this mean?)
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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