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Now You See Me Is Fun For Awhile But Totally Ridiculous

Now You See Me
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, and Edward Ricourt from a story by Yakin and Ricourt
Summit, 2013

Who doesn’t like a good magic show?  Further, who doesn’t like the idea of magicians pulling off an Ocean’s Eleven-style heist and making all the detectives wonder how they did it?  The promise of Now You See Me is pretty great, but by the time the film hits its end, you’ll probably say to yourself, “No…I mean, why did that character do that?  And how is all of this possible?”

Now You See Me brings four magicians together: J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), escape artist Henley Reeves (the gorgeous Isla Fisher), and con artist Jack Wilder (Dave Franco).  They’re gathered together for a purpose unknown, and the next thing you know they’re in Las Vegas doing a major magic show, one where a seemingly random person is drawn out of the crowd to participate in a bank heist…in France.  They have a wealthy backer by the name of Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine).  And someone in the crowd makes money by exposing magicians’ tricks: Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who seems to know all the logical explanations for how the team is pulling off their shows.

On the case is Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) who teams with INTERPOL agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent from Inglourious Basterds).  They’re tasked to track down “The Four Horsemen” and stop them if anything kooky goes on with money at their next show in New Orleans.  By this point, you know there’s something else going on beyond just simple bank robberies.

It’s at this point the movie becomes more about, “Do the Four Horsemen have a fifth person we don’t know about?”  And the tricks that are performed have a lot more build-up but actually end up being a lot less satisfying as it winds to its conclusion and inevitable surprise ending.  By the time that ending happens, it’s like many surprise endings, where a lot of the character actions that you just saw for nearly two hours don’t make any sense.

There’s a tricky thing that happens in movies: we’re “suspending our disbelief” so that we believe everything on screen is real, that the actions of the characters make sense within the framework of the story.  So when the movie cheats us by putting scenes that are apparently there to give us, and only us, misdirection…then the filmmakers are breaking that bond with the audience.  These scenes make sense if the goal is to also misdirect characters in the movie, but misdirecting just the audience is a strange thing when you go back and review the movie in your mind.

Overall, you’ll have a decent time when you watch this.  But expect to have lots of questions at the end.

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