Friday, January 3, 2014

Film Review: Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See Me (Review)
United States/France/2013
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"A real disappointment..."

Four talented street magicians -- Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinley (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) -- receive mysterious yet recognizable cards calling for their presence. Together they form the super group The Four Douchebags Horsemen...

Now You See Me continues as The Four Horsemen gain popularity a year after forming. During a show, they rob a bank in Paris from Las Vegas as a trick and dump the money on their audience -- but it was much more than a trick as the money is actually missing. Now, they have an FBI agent and his new Interpol partner on their tail. The authorities try to keep up, but the Four Horsemen are always several steps ahead. Anyway, this process continues for the rest of the first and second act: "magically" rob the rich, give to the poor, escape, repeat. The final act attempts to explain everything, but it doesn't really matter -- it's all left to magic.

Now You See Me requires you to suspend belief to truly enjoy the experience. I have no problem doing this (see: White House Down), but it really didn't help this time around. First, the magic is all computerized, from the simplest of tricks to the most complicated. Some authentic magic, or illusion, would of been beneficial. The explanations are absurd and require much more than suspended belief to really take serious. The Four Horsemen are barely developed and have little screen presence. We really only see them during their shows, and although they're somewhat entertaining, the little screen time makes them less effective overall. Some scenes don't really fit, either, like when Jack Wilder suddenly turns into Jack Reacher. Oh, on that point, the FBI, and I'm talking about everyone, are completely useless and incompetent. The film is exhausting due to the repetition, and the runtime is unnecessarily bloated, as well. I like some of the action sequences, and some of the humor was great, so the film does have it's moments; though, not enough to hold the film up.

Jesse Eisenberg is solid as Atlas, I like his interpretation of an arrogant magician; however, it still feels like Eisenberg playing Eisenberg, change the character up a bit for once. Isla Fisher is competent enough, but has very little screen presence and charisma; she ends up being generic and bland through most of her performance. Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco are redeeming for the film; the former being humorous, witty, and charismatic, the latter being charismatic and genuine. Otherwise, the film is procedural for Hollywood. The music is great, the cinematography is great on the eyes, and so on. Some of the editing was too much -- way over-edited -- but only during a few scenes.

Overall, Now You See Me has some solid action scenes and some great humor. But the film fails to capitalize on its biggest attraction: the magic. The magic is boring and inauthentic, the runtime is bloated, some of the acting is barely decent, and the twists and turns aren't as surprising as it wants its audience to believe. A real disappointment considering how highly regarded it was during the summer.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence.

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