In the biggest surprise thus far in 2013, Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me is an incredibly fun, funny and engaging heist movie with great performances from everyone involved.
While I thought the trailer looked very compelling, and I liked all the actors involved, I was still extremely surprised over how much I enjoyed this film. Leterrier had a pretty mediocre career previously, directing the Transporter movies, The Incredible Hulk, and the abysmal Clash of the Titans. Another cause for concern was that this film had 3 different screenwriters, which can often adversely affect the focus or tone of the film. However, Leterrier did a wonderful job bringing the script to life and made me completely forget there were multiple screenwriters until I saw it in the credits.
One very cool thing about the movie is the magic tricks. When the magicians do their tricks you feel as if you are in their audience experiencing the awe in attempting to figure out how the trick was done. Not only do you get to see the real trick here, you also get the explanation for how it is performed. When the magicians perform a very clichéd magic trick, they mock it for being clichéd and show exactly how it is done. However, the film definitely keeps some tricks up it’s sleeve to keep the audience guessing the whole way through.
While there is a ton of magic here, this is ultimately a heist movie. And it is a heist movie in all the best ways. This film is much more Ocean’s Eleven than it is Ocean’s Twelve. Now You See Me is about a group of four street magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco) who team up to form the Four Horsemen, a big budget Las Vegas magic act, in an attempt to join the exclusive secret society The Eye of Horus. The Eye is a legendary group that is said to have stolen from the pharaohs in ancient Egypt using sleight of hand and then using it to feed the slaves. In The Four Horsemen’s first show, the main event is to rob a bank…in Paris (France, not the casino). The Horsemen really do rob the bank, and the auditorium is flooded with the stolen movie. The FBI (Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent) then goes after the Horsemen, trying to prove that they stole the money without making fools of themselves by saying they used “magic” to accomplish the heist.
“The first rule of Magic,” Michael Atlas (Eisenberg) tells Agent Hobbs (Ruffalo) “is to always be the smartest person in the room.” The Horsemen definitely follow this rule as they constantly stay ahead of the FBI and other enemies they make along the way and keep them guessing as they pull off heist after heist flawlessly. The only help the FBI has is Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a man who makes his living debunking magicians. But even that isn’t enough as the Horsemen are led by The Eye to fulfill their master plan.
With a cast this deep and talented, it may go without saying that the performances are excellent, but to be sure, they are superb. Eisenberg is perfectly cast as the extremely conceited Atlas, as he always plays those roles very well. Woody Harrelson is hilarious as mentalist Merritt Osbourne, and Dave Franco and Isla Fisher round out the Horsemen very nicely. Ruffalo continues his ascent into super stardom after his turn as the Hulk in Marvel’s The Avengers last year, and Laurent is excellent in her first big budget film since Inglorious Basterds. And after all those actors, you still get Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Common and “That Guy” Michael Kelly filling out the rest of the cast. Seriously tremendous cast that also rivals Ocean’s Eleven in talent if not pure star power.
Conclusion [10 out of 10]
This is not a perfect movie, but it succeeds everything it tries to do perfectly. This is the perfect summer popcorn movie with great action (I didn’t even mention the awesome sleight-of-hand fist fight), outstanding performances, very compelling heists and a funny script. All props go to Louis Leterrier for balancing everything perfectly to bring one hell of an experience to the cinema. Do yourself a favor and rush out to see this.