Now You See Me
First off, I want to apologize to all my blog readers for my sparse activity on the site as of late. I hate to have to say the “I’ve been busy” line, but I have to since its true. And I hate being busy, so its not a bragging thing. I am really hoping things calm down soon and I can have more time to myself and post regularly again. (It feels like forever since I’ve been to a movie theater…)
Now to the review. Every once in a while you watch a movie and, while there’s nothing egregiously wrong with it, its clear that it was not handled in a technically or narratively skilled manner. Now You See Me is one of those movies. It feels to me like the director really just wanted to make the movie for the flashy magic trick scenes and couldn’t be bothered with all of the details which makes this a competent and smoothly flowing story.
Now You See Me is the story of a group of four magicians who become famous by pulling off bank heists during their magic shows, causing one FBI agent played by Mark Ruffalo to try to unravel the mystery behind their crimes. The movie itself plays out like a magic trick, with lots of twists and deceptions to keep the audience wondering and guessing. It also has an impressive cast, including Ruffalo, the girl from Inglourious Basterds, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Harrelson. James Franco’s little brother is also in it and feels a little out of his league here.
While the story should be able to work, and actually has the potential to be a real mind twister, its brought down by clumsy directing and mediocre chase scenes. A big problem is the lack of character development. It feels like the filmmakers didn’t really know who they wanted the focus on: the magicians or the FBI. As a result, we start off with the story of the magicians, but their relationships are only ever played on each other on the most shallow surface level and they themselves are never explored as characters.
Another example of this is the romance between Ruffalo and the Interpol agent, even though there is no chemsitry between these characters or actors. They even try to create tension by doing the almost kiss but then act awkward bit. “Oh, um, I guess I’ll be going now…” Yeesh. Its one of the most forced love stories I’ve seen in a while, and only really exists because there is a male and female character, so of course they should hook up! And Ruffalo in particular gives a pretty weak performance here.
These are the most glaring problems in what isn’t an obviously terrible movie, it only is if you look close enough. The story doesn’t flow well, the dialogue is delivered very awkwardly at times, and they even have to throw in a run-of-the-mill, ordinary and cliche car chase just because. The magic tricks sometimes work, but only when they seem probable. However there are so many others that are obviously just put together to look cool, whether they could actually work as illusion or not. I will say that the ending did surprise me, I just wish it was able to tie together a really great mind bender instead of a movie which tries to hard to appear as one.