Now You See Me (2013)
the directing: Louis Leterrier
the writing: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt
the acting: Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman
Every year there are a plethora of films I would perhaps maybe possibly go see in theaters, but nobody else wants to go. Sometimes this saves me from spending almost an hour’s worth of work on what would be a day of disappointment and then weeks of remorse (case and point, Bullet to the Head) or I kick myself for not obtaining the full fledged experience of projection on huge screen. I lean closer to the latter in the case of Now You See Me. Sure it’s flawed – as films other than your personal favorites tend to be – but still the film holds sound entertainment through its momentous theatrics as well as simple childhood curiosity.
Let’s talk first about the cast list of this particular feature. Made up of fifteen Oscar nominations – or three Oscars – Now You See Me surprised me with the amount of talent it was able to conjure up. Further surprising, it isn’t until you really sit down and examine the actors on paper (or for most, laptop screen) that you fully understand the insanity of the film’s healthy nature. But considering how much I like most of these actors, you would think I’d catch on immediately. I attribute this to the control, skill, professionalism, or whatever you want to call it of all actors involved. There are no encroachments of boundaries or overpowering thirsts for the spotlight. It’s as if they are good enough to know this style of acting would only help the film’s success. Hmmm…
So this film is about magic. All we need is a girl in a bar, then the night would be perfect (unfortunately just for the guy doing the magic). When I say “magic,” I’m talking about some pretty hectic stuff. Director Leterrier claims that most, if not all, magic tricks displayed in the film can be done successfully in the real world. I kindly call bullshit on that one. There are people flying in bubbles, tablecloth things flying all over the place – small note: things flying blow my mind. Still I can’t help to think the only median that could portray many of these tricks in all their aggressive spectacle is film, which is exactly what gives Now You See Me most of its magic (oh, how shameless of me).
FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) hunt across the United States to bring down the magicians known as “The Four Horsemen,” made up of Atlas (Eisenberg), McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Reeves (Fisher), and Wilder (Dave Franco). We are given incredibly small insight to the “Horsemen’s” purposes and plans, actually the only insight is that they have at least one in each of those categories. The sparseness of this plot description is purposeful as the less said the more your entertainment can grow (in other words, I do it for you).
The largest criticism I have read points out the lack of character development among most roles in Now You See Me. I would say there are three reasons for this, but only two of them are good. The first being they made this film with the intention of a sequel – this is the bad one. It makes myriads of sense seeing as they would want to develop their characters over a number of films and leaving a bit of meat for each one. Still it is my personal belief writing can be at its worst when one doesn’t know where he or she is going. “Can,” we will see in the sequel.
Second and third are quite simple. I can see how developing certain characters would ruin the ending Leterrier struggled to keep barely secret (watch the film, you’ll understand). But most importantly, I believe – and I cannot fathom that these words are coming out of my mouth – the lack of character development actually made the film stronger. In many ways “The Four Horsemen” are used as a MacGuffin, so looking back it was actually clever to keep their characters tied down the way they were.
My main criticism of the film is actually a weird one in that I knew the entire time everything was going as planned for the “Horsemen.” I can honestly say I did not know what was going to happen or how we were going to get there, but I was perfectly aware it would be in favor of the magicians and their magic. There was no real vulnerability shown on their side of things, which could have given the film’s concluding act a bit more oomph.
With a budget of $75 million and a box office haul of over $300 million the confirmation of a sequel has already been given. As of right now, the director sounds more than willing to come back and most of the cast members have shown some interest. Also as of now, I will probably go see it. The actors are phenomenal, the acting was great, the dialogue was fine, and the story kept me entertained. It would be greedy to ask anything more of today’s Hollywood blockbusters.
Worth renting: Yes. A buck or two (even three) is definitely worth these 115 minutes.
Blu-ray or DVD: I would go Blu-ray on this one. The film is quite visual, with many of its spectacles deserving to be in high definition.