Now You See Me
The best way to sum up my thoughts on Now You See Me might be the famous quote to “aim for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Now You See Me is about high-profile magicians (think David Copperfield) who are seemingly using their magic to get away with crimes. The first half hour introduces us to some great characters, has some really fun magic acts, and sets up an interesting mystery. With such a great setup, this was on track to be one of my favorite movies of the year. Unfortunately, after that great start, the movie seems to lose its footing, going in too many directions and ultimately not focusing on the best stuff.
The cast is very impressive, with a lot of big names. I especially liked the core team of Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Woody Harrelson. They have great chemistry and their characters all have magic specialties, making them kind of like a superhero team. Support cast members include Michael Caine as their benefactor, Mark Ruffalo as the FBI agent chasing them, and Morgan Freeman, whom I’m getting a little tired of as he plays his Wise Veteran character again.
Another of the big draws is that this is a summer movie that doesn’t have aliens, superheroes, monsters, etc. It’s basically a thriller, albeit a big-budget one. The audience knows a little more than the FBI, but not as much as the magicians, so it keeps us guessing until the end. The central mystery is engaging, and there are a few clues along the way, although I didn’t figure it out.
The problem is in the details. While the big secret revealed at the ending is a good one, and I bought it…it creates a lot of little details that don’t seem to fit well together. It suddenly makes you try to fit the previous pieces together, and they don’t all work. Going back to the “aim for the moon” quote, there’s a potentially HUGE development towards the end of the movie that they’ve been hinting at, but after it happens, they never refer to it again! It doesn’t seem like they were trying to set themselves up for a sequel. Instead it just feels like a loose end because they ran out of time. Actually, I’m not even sure they were aiming for the moon here–I don’t think they even knew where the moon was, despite being so close to it.
Overall, it’s engaging, and if that’s what you’re looking for in a summer movie, it’s solid. I didn’t even mention the cool fight scene using magic props. It’s pretty unique, along with several other nice touches throughout. It just doesn’t all come together as a whole very well, so if you’re bothered by logic and plot holes…maybe this won’t be for you. I’m pretty forgiving though, since I go to the movies to be entertained. The mystery, cast, and untapped culture of professional magic did that, even if it could/should have been even better.