Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Now You See Me review; please make it disappear

An action-thriller about magicians stealing from the rich, to give to the poor; sounds pretty cool right?  The movie is Now You See Me, directed by Louis Leterrier (The Transporter).  It's got a great cast too!  Jesse Eisenberg as the leader of this magic group called the Four Horseman.  Woody Harrelson plays a hypnotist and brings some comedic flare to the party.  Isla Fisher plays a sexy escape artist.  And the final Horseman is Dave Franco, who plays a pickpocket turned magician.  I actually saw this film a few weeks ago, but with all the Man of Steel hype, I simply haven't had time to post my review.  But now I want to tell you about the movie, and the rest of the cast, so let's go!

What I liked about the film:
The Cast
I mentioned the main characters/actors in the introduction.  Eisenberg will definitely remind people of his snarky self in The Social Network.  It was good and worked well for this character.  Harrelson is just awesome, isn't he?  How come he's not mentioned in the same conversations at Jeff Bridges and John Goodman as one of those great character actors that just delivers every time?  He's really funny in this film.  Fisher doesn't really have much to work with here, she inadvertently ends up a side-kick character.  Franco is great with his comedic timing, but when asked to pull off drama in a role, I think he misses the mark.  Great ensemble casting nonetheless.

And there are a few more actors that need to be mentioned as well.  Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are great in the film, with their limited screen time.  Caine plays the financier of the group's magic act.  And Freeman plays a man hellbent on exposing magicians as frauds, and he makes a good living doing it.  Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) plays an assistant FBI Agent and I just fell in love with her.  She's plays this really smart, sexy, and genuinely curious character.  I couldn't take my eyes off her the entire film.  Good stuff.

The Magic
I am a sucker for magic.  I've never denied this fact.  And I loved the magic in the movie, but not necessarily in the way portrayed in the trailers.  Let me explain.  The movie somewhat follows the format of an action film.  There are three 'action' (magic) sequences in the film.  That's not the stuff I liked.  I'll get to why I didn't like it in a minute.  I like the more minimal magic.  The slight of hand, the card tricks, the traditional stuff!  That is what mystified me as a kid, and continues to do so now.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Story/Mark Ruffalo
The story, was plain stupid.  Without spoiling anything, it's a total knock off of The Count of Monte Cristo, but isn't executed NEARLY as well as that film.  From about 30 minutes in, it's one eye roll after the other.  I think I was hoping for a story that was much more grounded in reality, like The Prestige, or The Illusionist. Instead we're given a million coincidences to believe while suspending our disbelief.  I hated the story.  And I'm sorry, but Mark Ruffalo just totally over-acts this entire role.  He's an FBI Agent who will do whatever it takes to capture the Horseman, you know... because they're stealing from the rich to give to the poor.  The conclusion will have you shaking your head and rolling your eyes at the same time.  Oh and heads up, if you're a movie fan of any kind, you'll see the ending coming with about 45 minutes left in the film.

The Action
As I mentioned earlier, the over-the-top action, or magic sets, are terrible.  And I don't know who's at fault for this.  You see, if they don't heighten the tricks, there's no real showmanship to the Horseman's act.  And if there's no spotlight, there's no major consequences; so I get it.  But I don't like it.  The action, especially the climactic ending is so damn stupid.  It just is.  It's stupid.  Watch the movie and let me know if you were as disengaged by the action as I was.

Louis Leterrier
I've come to a conclusion... Louis Leterrier is just not a very good director.  Or he's an inconsistent director at best.  I love the original Transporter film.  And I love The Incredible Hulk even more.  But Clash of the Titans, along with this film, make me wonder.  What's the deal?  Is he being pigeonholed by the studios he works for?  Is he wandering too far from scripts?  Or are the scripts just THAT bad?  I really don't know the answers.  But, Leterrier is capable of great storytelling.  Maybe he can give us a great 'small' film before returning to these big budget action flicks.

The Verdict:
Skip This Stinker
I didn't like the film at all.  Minus some cool magic tricks at the beginning, and some great acting by the supporting characters, I disliked this film very much.  The movie is sitting at a 'Rotten' 50% on RottenTomatoes right now.  And I don't think the reviews are as polarizing as maybe Man of Steel; overall, people (myself included) just hated the story and the stupidity of it all.  I know Ruffalo and company will be fine, and they'll get my hard earned cash on the next one.  But as far as this movie goes; now you see me, and now you don't...

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