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This is one of those movies that is somewhat entertaining upon first
viewing but is easily forgettable and has nothing of substance to make
a second viewing possible to enjoy. The plot is convoluted as we don't
know what the main characters are doing or why. In fact, everything we
know about the 4 magicians is revealed in the first 10 minutes of the
movie and after that there is ZERO character development! The entire
movie appears to have been made solely for the sake of the ending and
yet it was so cliché that I was actually a little angry about the way
they did it. It's unfortunate that in the filmmaker's attempts to be
clever they neglected the most fundamental elements of storytelling:
plot and character.
Like a magic show without magic, you may find yourself somewhat entertained but inevitably wind up disappointed in the end because they left out the most important part of the show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Now You See Me" has a stellar cast, a fun and intriguing premise and
themes (showdown of rival magicians combined with a heist), delightful
smart-assery and cunning tactics -- especially in those scenes
dominated by Jesse Eisenberg or Woody Harrelson. Oh, and it has quite
dazzling action sequences. All the best parts of this film are
well-packaged and sold in the gripping theatrical trailer.
I took someone I loved to "Now You See Me" and expected the payoff of a perfect night of entertainment.
I'm not impossible to please at the movies and I actively wanted this to be a good time. I went out for entertainment and leisure and in good company and high spirits, not at all for the purpose of writing a critical review.
What's more, I'm a big fan of all of the raw ingredients in this film. I enjoy magic and I could watch Morgan Freeman or Michael Caine in almost anything (now proved.) I fully enjoyed a much better film called "The Prestige," which might be regarded by some as a predecessor.
But what happened here?
After several fun scenes and a promising opening sequence that made me want to care about the characters, I discovered a film in search of a plot and utterly lacking intellectual integrity and respect for the audience. The twists and reversals weren't just surprising, they were completely unbelievable. You didn't see it coming, but not because of skillful misdirection (the art of magicians, so often implied.)
Rather, you didn't see it coming because the explanations were crooked and cooked up and merely expedient.
Especially, by late in the film when they start tracking backward to earlier events to show you how you were fooled and what was really going on the whole time -- the explanations presented are less convincing than simply believing in real magic.
!!!Spoler Alert: Stop reading here if you would like to watch this movie without knowing anything about the late scenes, reveals, and reversals!!!
For example, the "Four Horsemen" stage the death of one of their own by perfectly orchestrating a high-speed traffic accident on a crowded bridge. It's imperative that the car he's apparently driving flips and tumbles several times and ultimately bursts into flames.
But it's equally imperative that the pursuing detective can retrieve a stack of papers from the wrecked car. He *must* be able to retrieve the papers but not the body, all while getting away with his own life, or else the plot begins to unravel.
The timing is of course worked out impeccably, and it's carried out with no other fatalities on the bridge. And somehow the magicians have stuffed a replacement body from the morgue into an identical car just before turning it into a time-bomb.
The audience knows, emotionally, that the Dave Franco character shouldn't really be dead (as I heard one person exclaim loudly during the closing sequence when "Jack Wilder" shows up again,) but the way his death is apparently faked would defy an unlimited budget and dozens of trained stunt drivers and coordinators -- unless, of course, you close the bridge to public traffic. Yet it's just one more miracle that the Horsemen carry out with aplomb, at a frenetic pace and on-the-fly, with less than half-a-dozen total team members, empowered by an unlimited budget and a mystery benefactor.
All the while, apparently real traffic zooms along with presumably untrained and unprepared public going about normal business.
We are expected to believe that the way Hollywood makes a high-speed accident occur without killing anybody can be done by a handful of highly motivated professional stage magicians (read: amateurs to road stunts) and somehow this can be accomplished without completely controlled surroundings.
This elaborately and improbably faked high-speed death scene is just one example of the film jumping into an explanation of "how it really happened" that seems less probable and less believable than *anything* you could have guessed before being told.
And the plot problems go much deeper than buying into death-defying scenes that require an elimination of anything random in a busy public space. I couldn't buy the ultimate reveal about the real identity and motives of the Mark Ruffalo character, either. It seemed incongruous. It felt like a cheat. The way he is planted in relation to earlier events seems like an afterthought.
And I couldn't buy that underneath his deliberate blundering and willful ignorance was someone not only much smarter than he appeared, but someone so capable of perfect planning as to be damned near omniscient.
The total impression is of a promising film idea that fell on its own very expensive sword. I don't know what happened, but it looks like it got battered and morphed around and rewritten by multiple teams of writers. The total feeling is that the story got killed and Frankensteined back together multiple times. And it looks like the final edit came after the director and all concerned were out of steam and over budget.
I felt intellectually raped, to put it bluntly. I felt like the director was content to dazzle us with action and effects and to take our money while demanding our total credulity on the plot points, using the angle provided by magic in a rather disingenuous way.
This, instead of providing a coherent narrative that would allow an adult audience to cheerfully maintain a willing suspension of disbelief.
The storyline turns into a madhouse of improbabilities and then rationalizes its real business like a pathological liar. What a travesty to the promising themes of magic and old rivalries, treated so well in other recent films. And what a waste of a beautiful all-star cast, so entertaining as individuals in the early scenes.
Overall a showman of a film. Flashy, loud with bells and whistles and
big personalities, an exciting premise... illusionists rob banks using
(supposed) magic but the four horsemen are just puppets in a game, but
the hype is more than the substance of the film itself.
You'd expect suspense, twists, intelligent plot misdirection and all sorts of thrilling viewing? No. This film tries to be a lot more intelligent than it actually is. Like Atlas (Eisenberg) says, "Always be the most intelligent person in the room" or something similar, this film thinks it is being intelligent but actually it's not challenging enough. It gives too much away, isn't as unpredictable as it should be (really, you couldn't see that ending coming?) and just isn't as clever as it promises. The tricks I really wanted explaining weren't... the ones that were more obvious, were explained. The ending actually isn't a denouement, as it's been laying clues all along - and anyone who's seen a lot of films can see the "twists" coming a mile away. I focus on the twists and reveal because as a heist movie, the end is the big reveal. But, unlike Oceans Eleven, for example, it has more or less handed it to you on a plate already.
The actors were good. Morgan Freeman and Woody Harrelson stealing the show, of course, with Dave Franco doing a bang up job with some incredible physical acting, stunts and so forth. I'm afraid Jesse Eisenberg didn't convince in his character and was annoying after a while, Franco rather underutilised really. Isla Fisher was good but clearly the "glamour" rather than a serious character, which was a shame as she was good.
This was supposed to be a big blockbuster film, big back drops, epic stunts and huge crowd scenes, but it failed to deliver. As heist/magic genre films go it's not that great, and The Prestige was far more cerebral and gripping. Entertaining to a point but I got a bit bored, and some of the scenes were too long - chases etc. If you are a fan of heist films or magic you'll enjoy it, or are a fan of particular actors, or will just enjoy it for what it is and don't want to be challenged intellectually, it's a great film. I think Hollywood endings are just too commonplace. 6/10 for me.
Imagine Now You See Me as Ocean's Eleven meets The Prestige and you
sort of get what director Louis Leterrier was going for with this film.
Is Now You See Me as successful as the aforementioned films? Not
necessarily, but it's a fun movie that deconstructs the acts of modern
The story follows four Vegas magicians, known as the Four Horsemen, who rob a bank in the middle of one of their shows. What follows is a cat-and-mouse thriller where the FBI chases after these magicians, always one step behind, trying to figure out how they did it.
Where Now You See Me works best is when Leterrier creates cinematic sequences showing us how these magicians used real-life magic tricks to befuddle and dupe both their victims and the FBI. As well, if you want a film with twists and turns, this one will not disappoint. While most of the major twists can be found out before revealed, there is still a joy in watching those twists unfold, thanks to Leterrier's Sherlock Holmes' style of visual deduction. However, the script often falters in one of the most crucial areas, that of character.
Leterrier and company are constantly trying to balance the breakneck pace with the large cast of characters, and it just leaves the characters hanging out to dry. Character development is sorely lacking in Now You See Me, to where I never really cared about any of the characters. Part of this is because the film is constantly shifting points of view. The first thirty minutes follow our Robin Hood-like magicians, and then it switches to the FBI agents tracking them down, but then the film has the magicians constantly one step in front of the FBI to the point that it makes the FBI often come across as buffoons, and I find it hard to care for characters who are so easily fooled. Ultimately, I feel that had the film focused entirely on one set of characters, like the magicians or the FBI, the film would have been stronger and been easier to find a focal point, but as it is the film's core is often muddled.
While Now You See Me may not be a grand slam, it's still entertaining, thanks to the thrills and visual style of the film. Bottom line, if you're a fan of the heist genre, you'll like this movie. For me though, it just lacks a further script rewrite to have become one of the best examples of the genre.
I give Now You See Me an 8 out of 10!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is about four magicians brought together to perform the
ultimate trick...to rob a bank (or so they would have you believe). I
think that's as far as anyone really got with the plot apart from a few
obvious twists along the way. Each of the four magicians is drafted in
for their individual talents however these aren't really highlighted or
explored during the film in any detail. In fact there is no character
development at all which is more disappointing given the fact that the
cast includes Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman among others.
So a few minutes in and they perform their robbing a bank trick, the FBI man and the Interpol girl, who are somehow teamed up, are flummoxed so they take the magicians in for questioning. This doesn't go well for the FBI as the magicians use their mind/card tricks to outwit them and in the end they are let go. So the FBI calls in the help of Morgan Freeman, whose job is working out and explaining how tricks are done, to help. He has clearly seen this all before and explains the bank robbery within seconds.
This is where i kind of lost interest in the film. Anyway there are some attempts at this stage to add some depth to the movie but these all fail. The confrontations between Caine and Freeman are tired and they both just seem to be going through the motions. The love interest between the FBI man and the Interpol girl is forced and comes from nowhere. Basically she is hot and they are working on a case together so they fall in love. Even the main four cast members have no chemistry or likability.
So moving on a couple more tricks are performed and the cat and mouse game with the FBI continues. I wont ruin the disappointing end but let's just say there are a few twists that anyone who has seen a movie before would have worked out by now and then the film ends.
All in all the worst film I've seen in a long time and shame on Woody Harrelson for following his excellent performance in Seven Psychopaths with this garbage.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I believe the target audience (and maybe even the writer) are all 14
year old boys who think magicians can do anything they want. I love a
good sci-fi setting and I can accept some really fringe premises if the
movie exploit them in a good way. This movie just relies on the
audience swallowing everything and never questioning anything. If you
start to pull any of the many loose ends it all falls apart faster than
you can say bullshit.
I wanted to write this whitout spoilers, but the plot has given me a itch I can not scratch.
First, they stole 140 million by knowing the guys first pets name!?? Do they suggest the bank secure their assets with a simple password recovery scheme like that? I don't begin to understand. Are they seriuous? Why didn't they just say they hypnoticed him into withdrawing the money. Even thow that is not possible it is far more believable. This is maybe the most unbeliveble way to explain a heist I ever heard of.
There is not a singel interesting or plausible event in the whole film. Everything is just random. The fbi guy, did he base his whole career on this single moment? That is determenation and planning out of this world. But, I guess its a whole lot easier to say its just distraction and magic that did it all.
I would say that convincing people to pay for this crap is a far greater con than any of the ones presented in the movie.
I have seen allot of bad movies but they all have something if find interesting or good in them. Except this one. I cant find any thing positive to say. Stay clear.
If you like strong and logical plots, you are likely to dislike this
one. It's all about appearances and show in this one, rather than
actually being brilliant, the characters and story just ask you take
their brilliance for granted.
The story revolves around illusionists (implicitly portrayed as demigods I would say) and how they manage to fool everyone and get a little fooled themselves. Of course, with all this fooling around there are always chances that something might strike the funny bone, that is to say it has its humorous moments now and then but on the whole the illusions and tricks etc. is just more of a dazzle than something logical and realistic. There is not much depth to the characters and a lot of misdirection to make the climax more effective, but the misdirection only adds to the illogical nature of the plot and makes the story hollow.
Having criticized enough the good parts for me were the cocky-as-usual Jesse Eisenberg and some of the funny moments but nothing else. Even the dazzle of the magic tricks was made slow and plain by all the simple filler like dialogues. Final word; skip it unless you don't have a better choice for a movie in mind.
When it comes to summer movies, this is about as good as it gets. We
got to the movies to be entertained and lose ourselves for 2 hours for
a price of an admission ticket. I can say without flinching that this
was totally worth it.
The film was so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be from watching the trailers. It has a lot of wit, clever plot, suspense, magic, humor, twists, and action. It has something for everybody. The acting was great overall and I really liked the characters. In my mind 3 people stuck out. Mark ruffalo, Morgan freeman, and woody harrelson. They were great.
Overall I was surprised at how good the story was. Sure it won't win any Oscars but it takes a road at the end that nobody would see coming. It makes you want to go back and see it twice to understand it better, and just like all magic tricks, some of it can't be explained and you are left with no answer but to believe that what you saw was true. And to me that's fun
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I agree with the other negative reviews: good actors performing an incoherent script. The film is more of a collection of clichés than a story. One thing I haven't seen mentioned is how left-wing it is. We are supposed to cheer when Michael Caine's character gets screwed. The only reason I can see is because he is rich. Jesse Eisenberg on the other hand plays a smug guy you would like to smack upside the head. However, his heart is pure so it turns out good for him. Much of the story and the tricks are based upon screwing the "one percent." If you aren't a Wall Street occupier or are greater than 12 years old I recommend skipping it. Come to think of it, it's too violent for viewers 12 or less.
I was given free advanced screening tickets to see this film, and being
the film buff that I am, I took them and went and saw it. I had seen a
trailer before hand and knew what to expect from the film, but I gotta
be honest, my expectations were low and the only reason I watched it is
cause they were free tickets.
Now, after seeing it, I can tell you the film was an awesome surprise. The cast was great, the action fun, and the plot unique. I didn't see any of the twists coming and I found the film to be very entertaining. It doesn't get too convoluted at any point and is a great chase/illusion film. It's like a funner version of The Prestige, not that the two belong in the same class, just an easy way to quickly summarize what the movie is trying to accomplish (although Michael Caine is in both films!)
Go see it, as will I, again. A fun summer movie that is likely to surprise more than a few people with its plot and twists!
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