Now You See Me Review
rating: 3Theatrical misdirection and cinematic misdirection are two very different things. On stage, when a performer makes us miss something, makes us overlook the obvious, we appreciate it because we assume were getting a fair shake. We see the entire stage, all that he has to work with, and are duped by his performance. When we miss something, the odds are its because we werent looking hard enough. Cinematic misdirection, however, doesnt have give us a complete picture. We can be misled not just by charisma and performance, but by editing, camera movement and framing. If we miss something, its not always our own fault. Many times, its the director hiding it from us through his manipulation of the cinematic medium. We cant blame ourselves if we werent given a fair chance to see what was coming. Now You See Me, Louis Leterriers magician-heist movie, is flawed by its misdirection. It lives and dies on a twist, and while what comes before is a feather-light joy ride of mostly fun howd-they-do-that?s, the big reveal deflates the film and leaves us feeling a little cheated. Its not that the twist itself is unbelievable; rather that we dont feel we ever were given the proper chance to discover it for ourselves. A caper that follows the battle between a team of bank robbing magicians called The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fischer, and Dave Franco) and the detectives trying to keep up with their tricks (Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent), most of Now You See Me breezes by from trick to trick until it reaches its finale. Morgan Freeman also angles his way into the proceedings as a famous exposer of magic tricks, although its unclear if hes secretly aiding one side. It engages us on a purely fantastic level; we watch because we desperately want to discover what's coming next. For the bulk of the film we're placed in the detectives' shoes, which is good, because Now You See Me is concerned first and foremost with the joy of the chase. This makes for easy, entertaining viewing, but at the expense of giving its characters any real sort of depth. Mostly all of them are sketches: arrogant leader (Eisenberg), comic relief (Harrelson), burned out cop (Ruffalo), true believer (Laurent). Thats not a problem as long as the film keeps moving from heist to heist, because during those scenes we dont need much more than the basics. Its enough to watch with wonder and smile thinking of who's playing who and what's really going on. During the films quieter moments, however, the lack of depth does make it feel rather shallow. It has all the story that it can handle, the characters just feel a bit absent. But were here to have a good time, and a good time is what we have for the most part. Now You See Me doesnt have the style of Oceans Eleven or the cleverness of The Italian Job, but its enjoyable enough in its own right. Leterriers direction is occasionally too stylish, especially during a scattershot opening act, but once it calms itself down it proves capable enough of delivering the action in a coherent, easy to enjoy manner. An apartment brawl and car chase through New York are especially exciting. The plot itself is farfetched to an almost ridiculous extent, but its hard to care because of how much fun the film can be when its operating in top gear. Its the final reveal, though - the prestige, I suppose we should say in this sort of film - that lets us down. It doesnt destroy all that came before it, but it feels like a bridge too far from believability within the world that the film has placed us in. Its a shame that the film ends on such a down note, because until that point Now You See Me is a mostly delightful summer treat. Its magic just fades too much at the finish line. Now You See Me is out now in US cinemas.