Now You See Me is one of those movies that can described in just one word: cool.
This 2013 film has some of the most clever writing and witty dialogue I’ve seen in a movie in a long time, maybe ever. And that writing is really what makes this movie worth while. So many films nowadays have less-than-superior writing and that overall less-than-superiority brings those films down as a whole. Now You See Me, though, reminds us that some movies still have great writing, in the sense: nothing is irrelevant. You see this more in TV shows, but it can still happen in movies, where there’s a plotline that goes NO WHERE. Dexter Season 8 is an example where the entire thing is one useless plothole after another. Now You See Me really shows that there is no extra frosting on the cake: everything is important and it’s just the right amount.
So the movie is about magic which does set it up really well, but that setup can either be for massive failure or massive success, and as you can tell, I think it succeeds. Massively. So magic is the center-front of the movie, but it’s also about characters, tricks, FBI tracking, revenge, heists and mystery, and that is easily what makes it succeed (another movie that illustrates an assemblage of themes similar to these is Hugo). The theme of magic is explored in more sub-layers such as misdirection, illusions, and deception. These sub-layers show us that magic can be both realistic and cool at the same time, but more on that later.
So after the writing and overall theme, the next thing that really makes the movie work is the cast. Now You See Me has one of the most solid ensembles that I’ve can remember of the past couple years. Leading us off is Jesse Eisenberg, and you’ll see I give him some crap in my Batman v Superman post, but I really like him in this. In the Social Network he plays a shy, awkward dude that evolves into a corporate jerk. In this, he’s kind of the sarcastic, non-corporate jerk which he really pulls off and leads the movie with. Then we have Woody Harrelson who plays the hypnotist/con artist which offers the film a lot of good comic relief, especially in his individual opening sequence. And next is Isla Fisher who I hadn’t seen in anything before this, but she’s also really cool in this. She and Mélanie Laurent (who’s name I won’t be using again thanks to its complexity and my laziness) really pull off the female leads in a mostly-male dominant movie. But speaking of males who dominate, Morgan Freeman’s in the movie too as this guy who debunks magic tricks, and he also has some side stuff going on, which intrigues you. Then finally, the man in charge, Mark Ruffalo as Agent Dylan Rhodes who’s trying to take down all the magicians after their elaborate heist. Ruffalo is good, but he’s definitely just Mark Ruffalo as Mark Ruffalo, which would be a complaint if he didn’t have such a diverse range of roles. (What I mean is he’s always the same dude, but since the roles are always so different he can get away with it and let few of us notice.) I didn’t include Michael Caine in this because he definitely just has more of a “featured” bit, and, well he’s just an old rich guy (as Michael Caine is in a lot nowadays).
But going back to the whole theme of the movie and writing, I’ll discuss the plot. Now the screenplay to this was written by three guys and in this case, more is more. The three writers each seem to contribute new ideas to when the others were deadlocked, so the movie is never uninteresting. The only flaw with the entire movie in my opinion is with the writing at the very end. Reminder, this is a spoiler-free review, so I won’t give anything away (even though the movie came out over a year ago). But the end does this thing (it’s a twist ending, as you can assume there are many twists in a magic heist like this) where you feel as though the writers were running out of time to get the script done, and they just kind of scribbled something down to end the movie on. Don’t get me wrong, the ending is fine but I do think if they thought it out, something else could have been a little more satisfying.
So looking back, we see extremely clever and witty writing, complimented by a spectacular ensemble cast and other great stand-out plot points. The theme of magic intertwined with all of these can summarize Now You See Me in just one word: cool.
So guys, those are my thoughts on Now You See Me. It was greenlit for a sequel a little while back too, which I’ll do a post on when production starts up. But anyway, what are your thoughts on Now You See Me? Whatever those thoughts may be, leave them in the comments down below. I’ll review a few other 2013 movies this week, and I’m seeing Fault in Our Stars on Tuesday with a review to follow. Until next time, thanks for reading guys.