We, as a culture, love magic. The Harry Potter movies are some of the highest grossing films of all time and The Prestige and The Illusionist are both personal favorites of mine. Now You See Me is a movie that I didn’t hear about until recently and one I fear will be buried under the glut of summer. It’s the story of four street magicians who combine their talents to become the biggest magic act ever. Then they do the impossible and rob a bank on the other side of the world during their Las Vegas show.
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franko and Isla Fisher (who was Rebel Alley in season 4 of Arrested Development) are the Four Horsemen, the magicians astounding the world. Michael Caine is the owner of the casino where they perform. Morgan Freeman is Thaddeus Bradley, a former magician who now makes millions selling videos where he debunks the illusions of popular magic acts. Mark Ruffalo is the FBI agent tasked with figuring out how they did the impossible and bringing them in.
What follows is one of the most interesting thrill rides in recent memory. The magic the Horsemen perform is fascinating and Now You See Me doesn’t rely on the disbelief of the audience for the entire movie, Thaddeus Bradley serves as Mark Ruffalo’s insight into the world of magic. He details how the Horsemen pull of their seemingly impossible feats to the disbelieving Ruffalo and, in turn, the audience. Explanations often feel cheap, but having a character’s purpose be debunking these tricks feels realistic and works excellently.
As the film progressed, the plot gets significantly deeper and may even venture into territories that some wouldn’t enjoy, but I was hooked beginning to end. It’s rare to find a movie that begs you to pick apart every detail to look for loose ends. I can’t say that there aren’t any, but they are generally inconsequential and made up for by sheer spectacle and great writing. When the final trick is finally revealed, it doesn’t feel cheap, but instead the signs were obvious, but concealed through misdirection.
It’s rare to see such a complicated narrative with so many pieces expertly placed. Now You See Me is almost a magic trick in the way it is executed. A good deal of time is devoted to analyzing exactly how the fundamentals of magic work all while seeding those very ideas throughout the plot itself. Just as with magic, the truths are plainly presented to you, but through clever misdirection you accept facts as fiction and fiction as facts. Not a single reveal of how the tricks were done feels like a stretch, just incredibly detailed planning.
There are two types of movies, that when done well, are easily my favorite genres: heist and mind-bending thrillers. Now You See Me combines both on a scale we haven’t seen since Inception. Just as Christopher Nolan did in Inception, Louis Leterrier and the writers have written a fantastic script that doesn’t just hinge on a reveal in the final moments, instead those moments simply add to the discussion. Couple that with an incredible cast, all who pull their weight, and you have a strong runner for movie of the year and an easy addition to my personal library.
In Theaters: May 31, 2013
Runtime: 116 min
Rating: PG-13 for launguage, some action and sexual content.
Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franko, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Official Site: http://nowyouseememovie.com/