Now You See Me (2013)

Magic always seemed sort of weird to me. I understood it was a "trick", but there was always part of me that wanted to believe there really is some mystical quality to the universe, where people could read minds and levitate and such. Still, whenever someone tried to present it as real, I rolled my eyes. The main problem with having a movie focused on magic tricks is that it crosses the line between "interesting trick" and "movie editing."

Four magicians are brought together by a mysterious benefactor. They join forces to become a national sensation known as The Four Horseman, and they head out on a tour of the country. During their first show, they manage to rob a bank as part of the act; the subsequent tour stops all include some form of charity, putting the Horseman in a Robin Hood role, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. The FBI joins up with Interpol to figure out both how and why the group is doing what they are doing.

The plot has a bunch of twists and turns, but I won't give any spoilers. There are great scenes that show how a trick was pulled off, so in a sense the movie spoils itself occasionally. This goes back to my initial worry about the conflict of "tricks" versus "editing," in the sense that you can do any magic trick with CGI. If I want to leap off a building and turn into a bird, that can't be done with "real" magic; however, it can be done in CGI and passed off as an amazing "trick" that stumps even the veteran magic debunkers.

The other issue I have has more to do with the characterization. The cast of this movie is huge (Eisenberg, Ruffalo, Harrelson, Fisher, Franco, Laurent, Freeman, Caine) so to give each character a lot of depth would have been nearly impossible. Still, whipping around through so many different people only gives each one a few moments to shine. Most of the drama is pretty basic, until the final twist is revealed.

"Now You See Me" is something of a heist movie combined with a magic movie. It doesn't necessarily reach the levels of "The Prestige" or "The Killing", but those movies were done by Nolan and Kubrick so it's unfair to judge against them. This movie is definitely enjoyable if you want to suspend disbelief for a while and enjoy a multi-layered story with a magical twist.

 

 

On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Now You See Me" gets a 6 out of 10.