23 September 2013

Movie Review: Now You See Me by Louis Leterrier

Title: Now You See Me
Director(s): Louis Leterrier
Genre(s): Crime, Mystery
Release Date (USA): May 31, 2013
Rating: PG-13
"Let me warn you. I want you to follow, because no matter what you think you might know, we will always be one step, three steps- seven steps ahead of you, and just when you think you're catching up, that's when we'll be right behind you. And at no time will you be anywhere other than exactly where I want you to be. So come close, get all over me because the closer you think you are, the less you'll actually see.“ -J. Daniel Atlas
Now You See Me pits an elite group of world renown magicians, The Four Horsemen, against a disgruntled FBI agent in an intense game of cat and mouse. With a serious vendetta against the illusionists, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) teams up with Interpol agent, Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) to catch The Horsemen off their guard. The illusionists have been given an impossible mission---to pull off a series of daring heists, stealing from a bevy of corrupt business leaders. And they do, in front of an audience during their show. And like modern-day Robin Hoods, they generously shower the stolen profits upon the unsuspecting crowd, all while staying one step ahead of the law.

I love movies that use real-life magic as a premise, movies like The Illusionist and The Prestige, so when I first saw the trailer for Now You See Me, I was really excited. Now You See Me had quickly become one of my most anticipated movies of the year. And much to my disappointment, it has also become one of the biggest letdowns of the year.

Fuck you, disappointment!
This movie has an all-star cast (Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Cain & Dave Franco), intriguing premise and SO much potential. So where did it go wrong? Poor character development, a shoddy script and too much time focusing on befuddling the viewer, for starters. It very much reminded me of The Gangster Squad with it's lack of intellectual integrity and try-too-hard attitude. 

They turn Agent Rhodes (Ruffalo) into a total buffoon which makes the whole cat and mouse thing a bust. If you're going to use that angle, the opposing forces need to be equally matched, drawing out the suspense. Such was not the case here. And then you expect to see this group of talented actors shine, instead, it's like attempting to pull too many rabbits out of the hat. It's just a bunch of terrific actors who are totally restricted and undervalued. The draw of the film, The Horsemen, are given less screen time than expected and they're really the ones you want to see. Give me more Woody Harrelson!

Now You See Me promises many things to the viewer but it never delivers upon those promises. It's not cerebrally challenging the way a magic movie should be. The twists and reversals weren't surprising and were completely unbelievable. You didn't see them coming, not because of skillful misdirection as was often implied, but rather because the explanations were crooked and expedient. Especially, near the end as we backtrack through the movie's big events, the reveals are less-than-convincing than if you were to simply believe in real magic. I'll take fantasy over the contrived solutions in this movie.

Now You See Me, like most magic, is all smoke and mirrors with no real substance hiding behind the curtain. Basically, it's just one big pile of bullshit.

Summary Prognosis
Now You See Me is a mix of Robin Hood meets The Prestige---only not quite so good. Sure, it's got all the misdirection that a magic movie should have, but much like bad magic, there's no integrity. Flashy, full of bells and whistles and big personalities, this movie has so much potential. Unfortunately, it completely fails in the execution, rendering it one of my biggest disappointments this year. If you want magic then you should watch The Prestige instead.

Rating: ★★

Watch It: Amazon | Target
Discuss It: IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes
View the Trailer:


  1. I went with my daughter to the theater for this one. I totally agree on you with all the points you make here. It was a letdown and super unbelievable magic wise. It did have lots of potential!

    1. It was disappointing because it had such amazing actors and all the potential in the world. It made me really mad at how bad they made Ruffalo's character look in this movie. Such a let down.

  2. I actually enjoyed this one, I think because I didn't really have to think and I love Woody Harrelson. But I can see where your coming from, I do agree with your point that they didn't show nearly enough of the actual magic shows, that would have made it a better movie. The movie can have been better, but I still enjoyed it. Maybe I just don't know enough about magic to see something wrong with that part of the movie.

    1. I guess I just kept comparing it to The Prestige and The Illusionist, which really made me think. Not to mention, it's those damned expectations again. I'm glad you at least enjoyed it!


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