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OFFICIAL SILVER SCREENER REVIEW
– NOW YOU SEE ME –
IMDB Rating: 7.3 out of 10 (158,842 votes)
Director: Louis Letterier
Magic is a wonderful thing. It really, truly does amaze. It’s one of the only things in our society that is totally without limit, which is maybe why it’s so popular. If you ever end up going to Las Vegas, one of the most essential things to do is seeing a magic show (I saw Penn and Teller, my god were they amazing). Now, had the Four Horsemen we’d seen in the first 100 minutes of Now You See Me been performing at my local casino, goodness knows I’d be up for the challenge. I’d be totally psyched to take the plunge in magical fantasy, in a masterful show choreographed by the magicians themselves. Had it been directed by Louis Letterier, though, and I’d seriously reconsider.
In a review on RogerEbert.com, critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said of Now You See Me: “It’s slick, deliberately silly, and sprinkled with visual confetti…” But is it deliberately silly? I don’t see how it is. I see sloppy direction, I see a lack of attention to detail, I see silly writing that barely scratches the surface of these idiotic characters – especially the completely underqualified FBI agents we’re supposed to relate with.
Seriously though, there’s an over-the-top idiocy to Mark Ruffalo’s character FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes. I’m not sure if the big twist at the end helps my case (it makes him seem pretty smart, I’ll admit that), but maybe I’m completely missing the point here. Isn’t the purpose of a film to make us feel for the characters we see? Isn’t the job of a movie to generate some sort of emotional connection? If it is, someone tell Louis Letterier and his writers (Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt) to go back to the drawing board. They need some serious practice in emotional involvement, because there is literally zero feeling seeping through my skin as you watch this completely pedestrian 115 minute action film.
I mean, I guess it is a pretty stock standard action flick after all, because of how little it cares about the heart of a film, or because of how silly it is. That’s one of the great shames about this movie. It had such an amazing opportunity to explore the realism of magic, how we’re so susceptible to magic because perhaps we want to be fooled, or maybe how magic can play out on a grand scale. Now You See Me actually tries to explore that last theme I mention, but it does it poorly. How can you try to bring magic to the world when all your action (except for maybe 2 minutes of cuts to Paris) is in America?
Louis Letterier not only takes no care with this film, but he is so insistent on a state of hypnosis (because of Woody Harrelson’s character — how smart is Letterier now!) for his viewers, that every shot has to be either a circling steady-cam which seemingly do not ever end, or a shot generated on a computer screen by a fat man eating Doritos. This is one of the most frustrating things about Now You See Me. It’s okay to have variation in your shots, Louis. Why do you have to force your circular fetish on me?
The acting is okay for the most part, but it’s hard to act well when you’re given bad material. And let me tell you, Now You See Me has some of the most horrific dialogue you’ll hear all year. There are these cute little moments with Eisenberg, Fisher and Harrelson which are good, but Morgan Freeman’s character Thaddeus (what kind of name is that, anyway) always goes on with these useless speeches about the power of magic. It’s a little pretentious, especially when the film is so mediocre.
Melanie Laurent’s character Alma Dray, a French cop who is sent to America – wait, is she a cop? – is without a doubt the best character in the whole film. She’s the only one with half decent character development, Laurent’s performance is great, and although there’s a totally cliche love interest thrown in there (just because it has to), she has emotional depth, and we actually feel for her.
At the end, you’re left feeling pretty alright about the last small portion of the film, just because of how well it sneaks up on you and shouts “SURPRISE” in your ear. But the film tries to do that for the whole 115 minutes. It’s only when the tricks are played on us, are we actually ready to turn around and say ‘You got me’.
Now You See Me is completely pedestrian, and extremely forgettable. It won’t last in your head for much more than a few hours. Only if you’re a fan of the stupidest, most skin-deep cinema experiences, will you find some solace in it’s complete lack of attention to detail.
MY RATING: 4 out of 10.
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