Now You See Me, a new film about professional magicians on a quest to take down some of the richest and most powerful people in the world, asks the audience to suspend their disbelief in more ways than one.
Going in, I was cautiously optimistic about this film, as in the past I have seen movies about the same subject matter done very well—think The Prestige or The Illusionist. However, though the film has the same basic themes (and, in some cases, employs the same actors as the movies I just mentioned), the end result isn’t nearly up to par.
Part of the problem lies in the film’s inability to pick a genre for itself. It’s not nearly funny enough to be a comedy, nor is it sophisticated enough to be considered a drama, and there certainly aren’t enough car chases for it to be considered an action thriller. The final product is a hodge-podge of a film that simultaneously takes itself too seriously and too lightly.
The film relies almost exclusively on the plot to drive it along, meaning there is little to no character development. Instead, each actor plays a caricature of the roles they have become known for—Jesse Eisenberg as the arrogant but talented innovator, Woody Harrelson as the laid-back comic relief, Morgan Freeman as the mysterious man with all the answers—you get the idea. This makes it hard to feel anything for these characters—especially when the film asks us to believe in the two main characters’ budding ‘chemistry’ that leads to a ‘passionate’ kiss, followed by several cheesy one-liners.
Despite the film’s shortcomings, it is exceptionally cool. To watch these magicians amaze audiences and be let into their world is quite captivating to watch. The film also stays true to the notion presented at the beginning that these characters are always one step ahead of their audience, providing several twists that viewers won’t see coming. If the film focused more on the magic and the performers that bring it to life, it would’ve been much better.
Now You See Me is, overall, an entertaining watch, but it will not stand with some of the best movies out there about the art of magic. B-