The trouble with being a skeptic is that magic is one of those things - much like televised wrestling - that you know is trickery…however unlike wrestling, illusion is an art and the act always seems to blow the mind of even the staunchest naysayer. Does Now You See Me blow minds or is it just another case of “made you look”?
Four magicians receive a mysterious invitation that brings them together for a show that crosses the boundaries of illusion and felony. Led by famed street magician J. Daniel Atlas, the group uses their individual skills to pull off a string of illusions that will gain them entry into a secret society of magicians. Their actions however catch the eye of an relentless FBI agent who will stop at the nothing to see the quartet behind bars, but handcuffs wont be enough to hold these masters.
Now You See Me has a near perfect balance of mystery, suspense and old fashioned Hollywood dazzle, it even features an intense car chase, and if you cant deal with all that awesomeness, perhaps the fantastic cast will be your draw card. This movie is for anyone who enjoys the magic of the silver screen.
The Bottom Line
I have always felt that cinema is more like a magic show than it cares to admit, whether it be showing us futuristic vistas from beyond our imagination to the surprise twist that the audience never sees coming…so blending the medium of cinema with that of illusion is really a match made in heaven. Now You See Me may not be the first or the last film to bring the two mediums together, but it might just be the first that truly feels like a magic show where the tricks are just as important as the plot.
Any good show should have talented, charismatic showmen (and women of course) and Now You See Me has a buffet of a lineup. Whether it be veterans like Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Woody Harrelson, or young guns such as Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco, the audience is spoilt with the amount of talent that director Louis Leterrier has managed to fit into this film. If you’re still not impressed, how about Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent playing the roles of the agents who are always a step behind our modern day Robin Hoods? Surprisingly, no toes are stepped on and every character has their time in the spotlight…it’s almost like The Avengers of suspense films.
Louis Leterrier is hardly known for critically successful films, with a repertoire that includes the likes of Clash of the Titans and Transporter 2, Now You See Me could be the French filmmaker’s breakthrough movie. Admittedly, his latest film shares several similarities with his previous offerings, such as the breakneck pacing and intense chase scenes (and there are many of them), Now You See Me is brought together by a blend of expert storytelling and and high class performances, not to mention a script that really gets everything right…well everything except a romantic subplot which remains relatively obscure and unfulfilled.
When I walked into the darkened cinema, awaiting Now You See Me to illuminate the screen, I felt a sense of caution as to whether this story would be about magic or about the destruction of magic, and to be honest it was a little bit of both. While we all know that no matter how elaborate an illusion can be, its secrets are fundamentally routed in the natural world and not the hocus pocus that may have overcome you as a child. Now You See Me does not try to convince you otherwise, in fact the secrets to the illusions are revealed due to Morgan Freeman’s character, and in the end, the film is more of a heist movie than one about magic. It’s unconventional, mysterious, frenetically paced, and the sort of experience that Hollywood should deliver more of.