I was first introduced to the world of magic via the Fox show Breaking the Magician’s Code back in 1997. The series had a masked magician perform a trick, and then – much to the anger of the other magicians in the world – he would show the secrets to how they were done. Ever since that show, films involving magic have always drawn me in (the best being Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige) which is a large reason that Now You See Me landed on my list of the top five most anticipated summer movies for this year.
Now You See Me tells the story of “The Four Horsemen”, who are four magicians that have some serious tricks planned. Their first, which is the highlight of all the trailers, involves sending a live audience member to a bank in Paris and delivering the money back instantly to the audience. Why are they doing it? And, better yet, how? That simple premise drives the entire plot of Now You See Me.
Though it might sound silly in writing, it plays out really well in action. What’s great is that we get to see the tricks – which use a fair amount of CGI – and are then told how these tricks are performed because Morgan Freeman’s characters has to reveal their secrets to the police.
More often than not, the tricks seem highly implausible or down right impossible. But isn’t that the idea of magic: to make a crowd believe something despite it clearly not being real? The film is edited in such a way that you never have time to focus; it throws many things at you and tries to keep you on your toes. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I was very wrong. That’s the beauty of it: I was left guessing the entire time. While my brain tried to figure out the plot, it also tried to figure out the tricks because they played hand in hand.
One character says, “The point of an assistant is to distract from what’s really happening”. The film does this with its often-frantic editing. What really rounds the film out is the cast. Everyone falls into place, and are enjoyable to one degree or another. Jesse Eisenberg hams it up perfectly, and Woody Harrelson rocks it. What surprised me the most was Isla Fisher, whom was dreadfully dull and lifeless in The Great Gatsby, but alive and likeable in Now You See Me.
The films biggest problem is that the grand finale isn’t really all that grand at all, and fails to outdo the opening number. In fact, the final five minutes fall completely flat. But, this doesn’t really hinder the otherwise enjoyable ride.
Now You See Me is the most fun I’ve had in a movie theatre this year because it never takes itself too seriously, and it gives the audience magic-based thrills, that despite CGI, make the viewer want to believe. Is it perfect? No, but by God it made my mind work, and, excepting Steven Soderberg’s Side Effects, I can’t say that about any other film so far this year.