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Now You See Me

2013 | 115 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1

Now You See Me


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2 user reviews

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 31 May, 2013
 21 June, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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Screenshots from Now You See Me Blu-ray

Now You See Me Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, May 31, 2013

“Now You See Me” is a movie about the world of magic that doesn’t contain a single frame of the real thing. It purports to understand the techniques and attitude of the profession, yet it does a great injustice to the skill of misdirection by turning elaborate deception into blunt blockbuster filmmaking, perverting sleight of hand beauty into moronic CGI-drenched escapades where anything goes. “Now You See Me” is a lousy picture, anchored by lazy screenwriting and dismal performances, but that it ignores the challenge of bringing authentic magic to the screen to support its caper interests is practically unforgivable, keeping the effort thoroughly plasticized and often tedious.

Mentalist Merritt (Woody Harrelson), escape artist Henley (Isla Fisher), sleight of hand master Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg), and pickpocket Jack (Dave Franco) are four magicians brought together by an unseen entity, tasked with mastering an elaborate arena show that permits them access to piles of money via the art of misdirection, working their way to the pockets of billionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). Hot on their trail is F.B.I Agent Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), who’s paired with Interpol Agent Dray (Melanie Laurent) to bust the illusionists for their multi-continent crimes, racing around America to prevent additional mysterious heists. Shadowing the hunt is magic debunker Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman), who’s out to reveal how this gang, branded the Four Horsemen, is pulling off the trick, shaming Rhodes with every wrong turn he takes. As the stakes increase, the Four Horsemen settle into the final act of their extended plan of attack, readying themselves for a puzzling end game as Rhodes and Dray draw near, determined to shut the showmen down.

Instead of being a creation that’s genuinely smart and creative with its mystery, “Now You See Me” is a blunt instrument. It’s aching to be a thrill ride, directed by Louis Leterrier (2010’s “Clash of the Titans”) in a frenzied manner that has the camera constantly in motion, laboring to emphasize the magic in play with swirling crane shots and steady disorientation, attempting to provide the sensation of illusion when actual abracadabra just won’t do. It’s an excessively busy picture, obnoxiously so at times, but I suppose commotion is to be expected with the borderline sci-fi plot, which features superhuman characters and impossible situations of escape that couldn’t possibly take place on Earth. Attempting to mirror the unfathomable elements of magic, the screenplay is a jumble of twists and turns, taking Rhodes and Dray on a ride of sweaty frustration as they attempt to outwit the Four Horsemen, always failing to remain one step ahead. However, the writing isn’t a wicked construct of intelligent plotting, but an elaborate make-em-up that eschews rules and logic to linger in cheap escapism, complete with superfluous car and foot chases that aim to distract from dramatic emptiness. Leterrier is under the impression that the audience is craving noise instead of wonder, dragging “Now You See Me” away from its initial intimate moments as a study of skill, observing the Four Horsemen show off their abilities in front of mesmerized crowds.

Another problem facing the picture is likability. “Now You See Me” isn’t some ambiguous art-hour project that welcomes moral sophistication, it’s a clumsy, big-budgeted affair with heroes and villains. Well, just villains, as everyone introduced remains oddly unappealing, leaving utter confusion over who exactly to root for. The Four Horsemen are arrogant and devoid of personality, imagined as wiseacres with superiority complexes, engaged in a scheme they know little about, which casts doubt on their supposed hyper-intelligence. The cops are clowns, argumentative and witless, though it seems as though the writing is pushing law enforcement as the antagonists of the tale, since the magicians receive all the glory, using their superhero skills to elude capture. And Thaddeus is the smirking man in the corner, aware of the manipulation but unsure of its source, smugly proving Rhodes wrong. It’s a strange feeling to watch “Now You See Me” and have absolutely no investment in its outcome, as victory on any side is ultimately unwelcome.

“Now You See Me” introduces a secret magic society knows as “The Eye” to trigger elements of intrigue and butter up passage to a possible sequel. There’s a moronic attempt to inch romance between Rhodes and Dray into the action, which makes no sense when you consider the characters are strangers who know nothing about each other. It feels like a lame studio note wedged in the story to make sure the audience feels something at the end of the feature besides ticket-buying regret. And the magic isn’t magic at all, but crude CGI cheats and lame “tell” mastery that has no basis in reality, missing the essence of the art form, which wows through impressively rehearsed motions and perfected showmanship. “Now You See Me” is essentially a crummy video game with a ridiculous ending that has the stones to pile on even more twists, though anyone who sees at least 20 movies a year will be miles ahead of the script at this point, or perhaps, even better, avoiding this flaccid effort altogether.

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, Dave Franco
Director: Louis Leterrier

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Now You See Me, Forum Discussions

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Now You See Me 157 Sep 08, 2013
Now You See Me 2 59 Sep 13, 2013
Now you See Me 4 May 09, 2013

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