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Now You See Me(2013)
FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.
For more about Now You See Me and the Now You See Me Blu-ray release, see Now You See Me Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on August 28, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine
Director: Louis Leterrier
» See full cast & crew
Now You See Me Blu-ray Review
This film makes logic disappear.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, August 28, 2013
Here's a twist ending that even pretzel maker extraordinaire M. Night Shyamalan probably didn't see coming: Shyamalan's hugely hyped sci-fi epic After Earth opened to withering reviews (well, that part probably could have been predicted), but also encountered such lackluster box office appeal that a relatively little, came out of nowhere film called Now You See Me lived up to its title and claimed the number spot the same week that Shyamalan ill fated opus also opened. That sleight of hand is only partially indicative of the tricks of the magical trade on display in this enjoyable but sometimes over convoluted film, one which relies fairly heavily on what professional magicians refer to as misdirection—holding up a shiny bauble or something similar to momentarily draw the audience's attention away from what really matters. Now You See Me frankly never reaches the inspired heights of Christopher Nolan's defining The Prestige (despite also featuring Michael Caine), but it's head and shoulders above lesser fare like The Illusionist. The film quickly introduces us to a quartet of magicians who have a certain hustler's edge to them. J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is a David Blaine-esque street magician getting up close and personal with his audience and then amazing them when a nearby skyscraper becomes part of his reveal. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is Daniel's former assistant who has carved out a successful career for herself as a kind of goth-vixen escape artist. Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is a once famous magician who has descended to blackmailing people with his ability to easily peer into their minds and divine unseemly secrets. Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) is an out and out hustler who pretends to do magic, but who is actually more skilled at being a pickpocket. As each of these four are shown in their native habitats, so to speak, we're also privy to the fact that they're being watched by a mysterious stranger in a hoodie who's seen only from the back. All four performers soon find Tarot cards left at various locations for them to find, with an invitation of sorts telling them to get to an address in midtown Manhattan.
Now You See Me is at its heart a heist or caper film dressed up with a bunch of extraneous prestidigitation, as the four magicians believe they have been nominated to join a super-exclusive group called The Eye, which might be thought of as a sort of analog to 19th century groups like The Golden Dawn, which purported to continue a tradition of "real" magic (or magick, as some of its members spelled it), as opposed to run of the mill trickery. The next time we see the four, they have joined forces and are headlining a glitzy Vegas strip show where they select a random mark out of the huge audience and then tell him they're going to rob his bank in real time. It turns out the mark is French and the bank is in Paris, but that only throws the quartet for a momentary loop, and there in front of thousands of spectators, including magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), they apparently teleport the guy into the Paris vault and then open a portal which pours untold millions of Euros onto the heads of the disbelieving but ecstatic audience members. Needless to say, The Four Horsemen, as they have been renamed, are instantly very popular.
The four are being promoted by megabillionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), though in the group's follow up performance in New Orleans, something rather unexpected happens (which won't be divulged here in order not to reveal too much about the twisty-turny plot), but which makes Tressler and Bradley grudging allies. In the meantime, the FBI and Interpol have gotten involved, since it does in fact appear that the four managed to rob the Paris bank somehow. Disheveled FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is unhappily paired with French Interpol Agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent), though the two have such disparate working methods they seem to be more and more lost on the case the more they work on it.
The film plays out as a series of elaborate hoaxes which seem to have a mysterious point, though no one is able to pinpoint exactly what that might be, although it's clear some hidden force is pulling the strings, and viewers will start focusing on a somewhat limited cast of suspects to figure out who might be the "man (or woman) behind the curtain". Armchair sleuths who delight in this kind of cinematic whodunit (or in this case what's being done) will probably be able to catch a couple of obviously planted clues that will at least indicate the right direction. But the film, while essentially well written and very densely plotted by co-scenarists Edward Ricourt, Ed Solomon and Boaz Yakin, still has a rather haphazard quality at times. Note how things just kind of port over to New Orleans after the incredibly well done Vegas sequence, with absolutely no bridging content to provide the viewer context of what's going on.
It's also patently ridiculous to have a coterie of high powered investigators tailing a bunch of magicians, which in fact is the film's central cat and mouse gambit. When the denouement is finally revealed, it depends on so many well laid plans that have panned out exactly as hoped for, that the ultimate trick seems to have been played on the audience. That said, Now You See Me is never less than completely entertaining, and even in its (slightly) extended version manages to be an effortlessly brisk and often quite exciting film. The illusion may not in fact withstand much scrutiny, but like most magic tricks, it's enough to momentarily distract and even delight.
Now You See Me Blu-ray, Video Quality
Now You See Me is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1. This is a fantastically sharp and well detailed looking presentation that boasts near impeccable fine detail, and not just in the expected close-ups. The image is generally crystal clear and benefits from very strong contrast, nicely saturated colors and deep, solid black levels. The film makes the most of its locations, which include New York City, Las Vegas, New Orleans and even Paris, and some of the establishing shots provide wonderfully clear imagery with really exceptional depth of field. There are one or two very brief moments of banding when some bright lights are aimed directly at the camera, and some may feel shadow detail is slightly lacking in a couple of dimly lit sequences, but otherwise this is a top flight video presentation that looks nicely cinematic and should certainly please discriminating videophiles.
Now You See Me Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Now You See Me's lossless DTS-HD Master 7.1 mix pulls few punches in its most aggressive moments, which include a couple of fantastic car chases and at least one knock down, drag out fight (replete with handcuffed hands in a garbage disposal). But the immersion isn't necessarily limited to these ostensibly showiest moments. The huge Vegas set piece, which is visually stunning due to Lettelier's nonstop use of reeling crane shots, is just as impressive from a sound design perspective, with audience sounds spilling through the surrounds like waves breaking against the shore, and the Four Horsemen clearly separated spatially per their positions in the frame. Dialogue is cleanly presented here and is very well prioritized in what can sometimes be a fairly busy soundscape. Fidelity is top notch and dynamic range is extremely wide.
Now You See Me Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Additionally, the Blu-ray includes both the Theatrical (1:55:21) and Extended (2:04:48) Versions of the film.
Now You See Me Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
In my guise as a professional musician, I once performed upstage of a magician and therefore had a "backstage" view of the mechanics of his act, and I was both fascinated and kind of crestfallen by the workaday "secrets" this vantage point revealed. My advice to anyone coming to Now You See Me is to not follow the film's tagline and look closely at the plot machinations, because if you do, you'll soon discover they ultimately make little sense. This film is best enjoyed as a rather bracing diversion, one which is quite entertaining but which, like magician's flash paper, generates only a moment of light and heat. This Blu-ray features great looking video and sounding audio, and the commentary is unusually excellent. Recommended.
Now You See Me: Other Editions
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Now You See Me Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, Sept. 2-8: Now You See Me Transports to the Top - September 12, 2013
For the week that ended on September 8th, Lionsgate and Summit Home Entertainment's Now You See Me scored the top figures on the Blu-ray and overall package media charts. A sleeper hit of the 2013 summer movie slate, Now You See Me had a Metacritic rating of 50% ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: September 3-10 - September 3, 2013
For the week of September 3rd, Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment are releasing Now You See Me, Louis Leterrier's surprise hit about bank-robbing magicians. Other titles include Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem adaptation, the final season of Starz's Spartacus, ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Now You See Me - August 29, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Summit Entertainment are offering five members a chance to win a copy of Now You See Me. One grand prize winner will also receive a treasure trove of supplementary prizes in addition to their Blu-ray (a detailed list is available in the full ...
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