‘Now You See Me’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:36 am,

Now You See Me Trailer 2013 570x341 Now You See Me Review

This film makes for pretty good popcorn entertainment – and (almost) demonstrates that Hollywood movies can still entrance, even in the age of frantic blockbusters stuffed full with hollow eye candy.

In Now You See Me, four extremely-talented street magicians – the renowned J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) and his former assistant-turned illusionist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) – in addition to up-and-comer Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and the mind-reader/hypnotist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) – form a daredevil group known as The Four Horsemen. However, one of their stunts at a Las Vegas performance lands them in hot water with the authorities – when it seems that the four tricksters literally robbed a Parisian bank in the middle of their show

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is then assigned to the case – alongside new-to-the-field Interpol detective Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) – but the duo fail to find a shred of material evidence that connects the Four Horsemen to the crime in question. But is this just the warm-up act for these masters of deception? And what does Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) – a former magician who has since devoted his life to debunking professional illusionists – know about these four mysterious artists that he isn’t telling everybody else?

now you see me morgan freeman Now You See Me Review

Morgan Freeman in ‘Now You See Me’

Now You See Me was directed by Louis Leterrier, the filmmaker responsible for the European pop-art hit The Transporter – as well as The Incredible Hulk and the Clash of the Titans remake. The film’s magician caper/heist storyline – which was engineered by Boaz Yakin (Prince of Persia) and relative newcomer Edward Ricourt – works in unison with Leterrier’s fine knowledge of cinematic technique. This gives rise to an interesting subtext about the enduring “magic” of movies, the purpose of art as entertainment, and the heightened importance of creative integrity in an age where cynical skepticism sells.

The final movie result is a fun and exhilarating viewing experience, which features a charismatic band of actors and actresses – with good screen chemistry – to help and better communicate that underlying message. Yet, Now You See Me falls short of being a majestic pop-art statement, as the film’s action sequences and central set pieces aren’t executed with quite enough finesse; similarly, the basic attempts to spin a deeper mythology feels too much like an afterthought (or, rather, sequel fodder). Nonetheless, this film makes for pretty good popcorn entertainment – and (almost) demonstrates that Hollywood movies can still entrance, even in the age of frantic blockbusters stuffed full with hollow eye candy.

now you see me ruffalo laurent Now You See Me Review

Mélanie Laurent and Mark Ruffalo in ‘Now You See Me’

Yakin and Ricourt wrote the Now You See Me script with Ed Solomon (Men in Black, Charlie’s Angels) and – similar to Yakin’s screenplay for the Jason Statham thriller Safe – the film’s narrative boils down to a cat and mouse game. The various twists and turns along the way probably don’t hold up perfectly under close-scrutiny – nor do they completely pull the blind over your eyes – but the guessing contest is fun to participate in on the way. Similarly, the inevitable “final reveal” is satisfying and doesn’t have to scramble to bring greater significance to the proceedings; instead, it caps off ideas and themes that are developed throughout the course of the story.

As mentioned before, there’s not a weak link in the film’s cast. Ruffalo and Laurent are engaging as the protagonists, and their odd couple clash of wills – bumbling pessimism vs. steely optimism – is enjoyable to watch. Similarly, there’s fun to be had watching Michael Caine portray Arthur Tressler – who is the Four Horsemen’s rich sponsor – and Freeman as Thaddeus. Indeed, both of these seasoned Oscar-winners get to subvert expectations, by playing older gentlemen who are neither as admirable nor thoughtful as audiences have grown accustomed to seeing them be onscreen.

The Four Horsemen, by comparison, are not equally satisfying as fully-realized characters on the surface – nor as metaphorical embodiments of certain emotional qualities – despite likable performances by the cast (Harrelson, in particular, is a stand-out). That’s partly because the story behind their actions (as was mentioned before) isn’t fleshed out as well as it could’ve been.

now you see me movie Now You See Me Review

Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson in ‘Now You See Me’

However, there’s a just reason for this storytelling discrepancy; thing is, Leterrier’s filmmaking tactics – which include effective trick editing and lively camerawork that produces blurry Impressionistic visuals (like a magician waving their hands as distraction) – are the cinematic elements that are truly meant to illustrate the idea of “magic,” not so much the imaginative plot components or (for the most part, bare-bones) CGI effects. Here, characterization and deeper meaning is expressed foremost through action.

Because of that, Now You See Me isn’t so much a character study – one set in the world of magicians – as Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige; instead, it approaches related subject matter from a very different angle and proves equally successful in certain regards. Leterrier’s film trades in the nihilism of The Prestige – in favor of hopefulness – and shows how referencing “movie magic” can be captivating; that is, without either coming off as self-congratulatory or waxing nostalgic about film artistry in an on-the-nose manner.

That’s to say: if you’re interested in a suave demonstration of cinematic showmanship (no more, but no less) via a thrill-ride movie featuring devious (yet charming) magic performers, then you might want to consider giving this one a look.

If you’re still on the fence about Now You See Me, check out the trailer below:

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Now You See Me is 116 minutes long and Rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content. Now playing in theaters around the U.S.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Now You See Me spoilers discussion.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. I read a review saying its a film that makes you want watch other films.. i agree. It kept reminding me of better films

  2. I thought the trailer looked great. I’ll check this out.

  3. I saw it last Wednesday at a pre-screening, and all I have to say is WOW. Not exactly mind-blowing, but it definitely beat my expectations. I would give it a solid 4/5. Not the best movie of the year, but it is most definitely worth your time. Camera work did give a headache at times though.

  4. My question is, is the ‘magic’ done in the film used as a cheap plot device to allow the characters to do impossible things without explanation, or are the tricks themselves integral to the story? I mean, not that we need to know how all the tricks are done, but I’d be very annoyed watching it if they robbed the bank and the only explanation was ‘Yeah… it was magic.’ I’m genuinely very interested in watching this so it’d help if I knew what to expect (think the review covered the rest).

    • Without spoiling anything, I can say that the tricks are definitely integral to the story.

      Whether or not there’s any “real” magic in the film, well… that’s for you to find out. 😉

      • Hmmm, intriguing. Well as long as it’s not just a lame gimmick, I think this looks very enjoyable so I’ll probably catch it some time – thanks!

    • To answer your question. Yes they say how its done at the end. Go see it, it’s a really good movie.

      • Thanks! Based on this and the other comments round here looks like it’s definitely worth a look.

    • There’s an explanation, but it’s outrageous. It’s not clever in anyway. .

  5. I can’t stand Dave Franco’s voice

    • I thought i was the only one

  6. I got to see the preview a week ago.
    Wow, great movie, when everything lately has been totally CGI enhanced.

    Magic…Houdini would be proud.

    When the credits rolled, I looked to the ceiling expecting money to begin falling.

    A movie with a hook…ala THE STING.

  7. Just saw it and this was an excellent Heist film. Forget all the criticisms of lack of character development and that’s because (without giving away any spoilers) there really isn’t enough time to (the movie is 2 hours as it is) and even if there was I believe it would be problematic because there should be an air of mystery to the four horsemen as well as pretty much every character in the film.

    There are certain ones that you don’t want to provide much character development on. The other option of developing al the characters but these few would then draw attention to why some of the characters were developer but the rest were not.

    If you like Heist films, cat & mouse films or magic themed films then go see NOW YOU SEE ME and then decide if the lack of character development is a negative or not.

  8. I just came from the theater from watching this movie, IT WAS AWESOME! everybody clapped at the end… way better than iron man 3 or star trek, this movie really has some magic to it. Its been a long time, I don’t feel this satisfied about a movie, I will probably see it again! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! deserves 5 stars!

  9. I saw this at the screening on Wednesday and it was great. I thought it would be just average but surprisingly the movie was better than expected. This film kind of reminds me of Zombieland where the actors made the film something more enjoyable. Woody Harrelson was just great. 4 stars out of 5 from me just because I thought if the film was about 30 minutes longer it could have hit even more on character development(in some areas).

  10. You arent aloud to put your own review in the comment section of their review.. I was told the same thing just passing the message

  11. Watched it last night. Really enjoyed it. The “Big Reveal” was satisfying enough and what you would expect from similiar movies. but the whole journey there is what i really enjoyed. I really liked the scenes setting up the characters and the scenes where they are being interigated. 7.5/10.

  12. I find it very unfair you guys can award a half star but don’t allow us the same choice! :/

    I agree 100% with the review……not nearly as cerebral as say Inception but a really fun ride none the less.

    (and how the hell did the guy get a key in an unopened can?!!!)

    • Easy, have you ever heard of Penn and Teller? They took a random phone from the audience, and less then a minute latter they found it inside a fish’t gut. The fish was still alive.

  13. If you aren’t willing to post your comment HERE then it’s not worth it.

    Posting links to a site with similar material is like standing outside someone’s bar and trying to direct them into your bar across the street.

  14. Saw an early pre-screening of this too. Enjoyed it quite a bit. Slick with entertaining story twists. Great cast. Movie never flags. And it embraces magic.

  15. Just got back from seeing this and really enjoyed it! Not spectacular by any means, but not as bland as some other reviews are making it out to be. Oh, and I love Isla Fisher!

  16. Oh 3.5/5 stars!

  17. If you can survive the spinning cameras that are desperately trying to give you a headache, it’s a good movie.

  18. saw it earlier today and gotta say i loved it!! the cast is amazing and mark ruffalo is awesome in it. Loved the twists. 4/5

  19. I mean the advertising for this was really well done.. Because during every commercial break I saw the Trailer .. and It made want to see it more .. I’m naturally intrigued with any movie that involves magic and heist .. and this movie stuck out and caught my Interest .. . I like the story and the actors.. for this particular movie I’m trying to avoid critics and reviews before I go to see it … I am definitely gonna catch this movie ..

  20. Just saw this movie and I had goosebumps at the end. Great cast! (including the “Magic” itself!) Great performances and story. I truly loved this film. It’s very exciting and gives you that feeling of old “movie magic” without all the CGI special effects. I would recommend it, but then again, I am a true fan of magic. Can’t wait for part 2!!

  21. It’s playing here in Carson City this week–Hope to see it–I’ll post a review and let you know what I thought. ABRACADABRA :0

  22. I have question to all people who have seen it. What did the four horsemen benefit at the end of the movie? They neither got any money nor revenge? So why were they so happy at the end? Was it just the show that they gained? What else?

    • Well this is my opinion. They were happy in the end because they came to realize that the ‘eye’ was real magic and when you can do real magic…well lets just say….even god can’t stop you from being happy . :)

  23. This was pure fun from start to finish. If you want reality watch the news. If you want perfect character development watch a drama. If you wat entertainment, excitement and to enjoy two hours of escapism, go see this film!

  24. So basically this is a movie about a guy and his revenge. This is how it should be reviewed becuase no money ever reached either magian. Everything that they robbed went back to the people. His whole point was revenge. Its cool to give it back to the people but then again its like ok cool you robbed a bunch of money with magic your second focus was the eye , and the other three got accepted. So what happens now are they aliens? Gods? Superheros or just a bunch of magains who.watch over us? Illuminati?

  25. I just saw this on pay per view and I loved it! Not a remake or a sequel but a refreshingly good movie. The characters were well matched and this movie kept you guessing and still does about the future of the horsemen. 5 stars all the way!!!