Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: Now You See Me

Copyright: Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate
In this movie, Woody Harrelson’s character is a sly swindler that likes to wear small hats, while Jesse Eisenberg plays a anxious looking, smart and fast talking brilliant young man. Yes, you saw this before, and these people are here again, playing the same roles they played in many other films because the people who wrote Now You See Me were too lazy or uninterested in making anything that would in any way set apart this magicians-do-a-heist story from the run-of-the-mill Hollywood offering.

In this reverse Ocean’s Eleven, the public and the police force from both sides of the Atlantic are amazed and/or pissed off when a group of misfit stage performers (magicians, illusionist, hypnotist and so on) called The Four Horsemen actually steals a large sum of money from a French bank while performing a trick in Las Vegas. FBI agent Dylan Rhodes isn’t prepared to let this one slide, and becomes obsessed with the group. His only real aid is Thaddeus Bradley, a former illusionist that developed a TV show with the purpose of debunking magic tricks.

The beginning of the movie is a traditional gathering of the crew, where we see each of the Horsemen slowly being drawn into a mysterious situation that will grant them the ability to perform one or more amazing tricks (that include robbing real money). The second act is the trick itself, and then the movie becomes the regular Catch Me If You Can chase narrative where the confident Horsemen evade the increasingly frustrated FBI task force.

As the movie creeps towards the end, it became clear that the mystery’s revelation of who did it won’t give any real payoff, like it usually doesn’t when the audience fails to connect to the human part of the story.
Here, the regular problem is seen once more: the characters weren’t allowed to evolve, and begin and end as stage props, played by actors on rewind mode, giving performances from other jobs in their careers.

The only steady development as a character is made by agent Rhodes, played by Mark Ruffalo. Unfortunately, this process is completely negated by the ending twist that reminded me of the imaginary script from the movie Adaptation, and the part when Donald explains his ludicrous plot (especially the chase part) to his bewildered brother.

Having in mind that Louis Leterrier, the director of Now You See Me, worked mostly in action movies where we don’t care for the characters, it’s clear that he tried to extend the same approach in this picture. Although here we also see some impressive imagery, the onscreen magic is painfully similar to the one this movie generates off-screen – both are fake and at the end, expectedly dull.

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