Magic and cinema have long had a certain kind of connection since the birth of cinema. People have talked about “movie-magic” and what makes good films work can also often be attributed to magic shows (suspension of disbelief, diverting your attention, etc.). Now You See Me is Hollywood’s latest attempt at making a magic movie. It may also be the most ridiculous one yet, as well as the one with the best cast. We’ve got Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Melanie Laurent, Common, Morgan Freeman *and* Michael Caine. How can you go wrong with that cast?
Now You See Me starts off promisingly and enjoyably enough and it’s clear from the get go that it’s not exactly supposed to be realistic as it includes some of the most outlandish magic tricks ever put on film, and even though most of them do get explained some still remain pretty redonculous and beyond belief.
But of course when you’re making a movie about modern-day magicians, it kind of has to be quite absurd to truly impress a jaded modern-day viewer whose idea of a magician is something like Sigfried and Roy (i.e. extremely cheesy). Total credibility is not really something you should be asking for in a film like this. But there are still limits, and there lie the films’ problems.
It seems like the filmmakers were more concerned with surprising the audience on a regular basis rather than have the story make a lick of sense and while that factor does work for the most part, it keeps you guessing and is never boring, eventually things just get a little to ridiculous and far-fetched. It’s not a movie that you should really think about too much.
However, through most of its running time Now You See Me works pretty well as entertainment. Even while many of the twists in it are predictable there are others that aren’t (though that’s often because they’re just too preposterous) and the film keeps things coming at ya, barely slowing down for a second. It’s hard to be bored by this film, though you might get a little exhausted.
Louis Leterrier shows here, like before, that he’s very concerned with not boring the audience and keeps thing quite lively and fast paced for the duration. But he also never, ever, stops moving the camera and edits things often really fast so at times it feels like the film is directed by a mini-Michael Bay. Leterrier may know how to make things lively but he should maybe try to keep his camera still every now and then and not have the camera circling around its subject in every other shot (well, it feels like it’s every other shot).
What mostly makes Now You See Me work, as dumb and silly as it is, is the cast. Oh, that cast. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrellson are the standouts here and make for a great couple of magician-hustlers. Mark Ruffalo is solid as ever and the two old-timers Caine and especially Freeman don’t dissapoint. Typically enough the two women here, Isla Fisher and Melanie Laurent, get roles that are less showy and lively than most of the others, but they do what they can and do solid turns (Also, Laurent wears a striped shirt in most of the movie, like all french people do, right?).
Final Verdict: Now You See Me is a lively, exciting, often ridiculous film that entertains mostly thanks to a great cast, as well a fun premise. But it’s also pretty preposterous and eventually becomes too far-fetched to convince. There’s little in the way of depth here, just a fun mystery that you shouldn’t think too hard about. Also, director Louis Letterier needs to learn to slow down his camera.