Monday, 5 August 2013
FILM REVIEW: NOW YOU SEE ME
The trick to enjoying a good piece of magic is not to get too concerned with the hows and whys. Step right up, suspend your disbelief and enjoy the show. The same principle applies to Now You See Me, a caper film of sorts about a band of magicians and modern day Robin Hoods, which is far more entertaining the less you think about it.
That isn't to say the film, directed by Louis Leterrier, and penned by a group of writers (most notably writer-director, Boaz Yakin), is stupid. There's some smarts among the razzle dazzle as our heroes, The Four Horsemen -- Jesse Eisneberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco -- lead the Feds (headed by Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol (Melanie Laurent) on a merry chase from Vegas to New Orleans and then New York.
But if you start to mull things over whilst catching your breath between set pieces, you might just begin to pick at the not-too-tiny holes in the film's own internal logic.
The four magicians -- J. Daniel Atlas (Eisenberg), Henley Reeves (Fisher), Merritt McKinney (Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Franco) -- are brought together by an anonymous mentor-benefactor, and 12 months later they are the biggest magic act in the country and under the management of millionaire, Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). It's when they appear to rob $3 million from a bank vault in Paris during a Vegas performance that the interest of both the FBI and Interpol is piqued.
Intrigued, too, is Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a famed magic debunker who's happy to lend his behind-the-curtain expertise to the no-time-for-magic Agent Rhodes (Ruffalo), and the more open-minded Agent Dray (Laurent), even if he is equally as perplexed as to how The Four Horsemen are doing that voodoo that they do so well.
Wisely, Leterrier, no stranger to action (having directed The Incredible Hulk (2008) and Transporter 2 (2005)), keeps things moving at a cracking pace; the highpoint being an impressive car chase on a New York bridge. Throw in some hokum about a secret magician's order known as The Eye, the legacy of a dead magician drowned in the East River during an escape gone wrong, and some red herrings as suspicion falls on almost everyone as the person pulling the strings, and the Frenchman himself becomes a master of what Thaddeus would call misdirection.
And when the film isn't busy in pursuit of the elusive illusionists, it chooses to focus on the relationship between Rhodes and Dray. Ruffalo and Laurent have warm chemistry and even if they, like the rest of the high calibre cast, aren't stretched, they're always engaged and engaging.
That's even as the third act becomes bogged down in exposition and one too many reveals. But so long as all the juggler's balls remain in the air, and the camera keeps zigging and zagging, the entertaining Now You See Me pulls off the illusion of having you think it is better than it probably is.
Still, I'd prefer to have fun in a two-hour movie than actively knowing that I'm not (i.e. Pacific Rim), even if the thrills dissolve like so much smoke from dry ice once the house lights go up and logic comes rushing back in.