Movies: Now You See Me

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Prestige, which I saw before ever reading the book (which is also fantastic). And I really liked The Illusionist, too. I like movies about magicians, really, and I like heist movies (think Ocean's Eleven, 2001). And so maybe I was primed to like this one as well.

I was actually prepared to dislike it, just based on the few reviews of it I'd read back when it came to cinemas in May. I was thinking it would be corny, was waiting for the plot to fall apart. Surprisingly, however, it holds together fairly well. I didn't spot the big twist until Morgan Freeman made the phone call to Mark Ruffalo. And even then, I was wondering if I was right. I was, but it didn't make the movie any less fun to watch.

The trick (har) in a movie like Now You See Me is to put in enough subtleties that the viewer is forced to question everything. Make all possible theories seem plausible for as long as you can. This keeps the viewer guessing and engaged.

The other trick is to minimize Jesse Eisenberg because he is obnoxious to watch for any length of time. I mean, totally perfect for the role, but it's a good thing he wasn't taking up most of the screen time.

The movie itself is about four magicians brought together to complete three amazing acts, the first in Vegas, the second in New Orleans, and finally NYC. If you've seen the trailer, you know the act in Vegas involves a bank robbery. This sets the FBI on the trail of these "Four Horsemen" magicians. Hilarity ensues.

Well, no, the movie isn't all that funny, though Woody Harrelson does a nice job as comic relief. But Now You See Me moves fast enough that one doesn't have time to mourn a lack of comedy. While the heists may not be quite as clever as Ocean's Eleven, there's still a lot of fun to be had in watching them and picking them apart. And in anticipating the answer at the end of the film.

In short, Now You See Me was better than I expected given the weakish reviews I'd read. And I guess it did all right at the box office despite the critics because a sequel is in the works. I have mixed feelings about that, I must say. Some things are better left alone, and it's difficult to make a second such movie as smart and clever as its sire; the audience at that point becomes wise to your ways, but if the writers learn some new tricks . . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice review. I had a good time with it, but I would have had a better time if I believed in everything I saw.