Friday, May 31, 2013
Now You See Me
Magic tricks are often mysterious, mind-boggling,
fascinating, and entertaining. That's especially true when
the magicians perform well and when the truth behind the
magic tricks remains a secret. Director Louis
Leterrier's exhilarating and
clever "Now You See Me"
(USA 2013 | 116 min.) certainly fits that
description, except in the end it reveals too much secrets
about the magic tricks.
The sharp opening of the film introduces us four top-notch magicians: a fast-talking and cocky performer J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), an escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), a sly and hilarious mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), and a pickpocket expert Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). Each of them gets a mysterious card that summons them together to form a group called the Horsemen.
With the backing of an insurance tycoon Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), the Horsemen put up dazzlingly sleek performances. After they rob a bank in Paris in front of a live audience, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) are brought in to investigate the Horsemen. Even with help from a sophisticated magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), they seem always a few steps behind the Horsemen, and helplessly watch the Horsemen unfolding their magical acts, one after another one into the climax.
In a fast pace and packed with excitement and energy, director Louis Leterrier confidently choreographs a visually stunning grand magic show that is almost as good as the Horsemen appearing in the film. Even this is a film about magicians performing on stage, Louis Leterrier manages to squeeze in a car chase in New York's Chinatown, regardless the scene's necessity. But that would be a mindless action movie if that were the emphasis of the film. Luckily, the film's main characters take root and develop into distinctive and likable personalities. They keep the story illusive and captivating, and thoroughly entertaining. The solid performance from a superb cast makes the magic tricks even more thrilling.
However, that undeniable achievement doesn't make the film's flaws disappear like in a magic trick performance. The cop-buddy formula doesn't quite play well for the characters played by Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent. It's also counterproductive to have a magic debunker to be in the plot, despite a presence of the commanding and convincing Morgan Freeman. A magic trick remains more powerful and mystery when the audience is unable to figure out how a magician does it. The film spoils the fun by allowing Morgan Freeman to unveil the secret of the Horsemen, as the best as he can. Worse, the film's ending is trying to make sense of everything, unnecessarily and perplexingly.
Nevertheless, the film puts up an enchanting and mesmerizing magic show that you don't really care how they do it. What's important is that "now you see it."