Now You See Me is an American film of heist thriller made in 2013. The film is directed by Louis Leterrier with a screenplay by Ed Solomon, Edward Ricourt, Boaz Yakin. It is the first installment of the Now You See Me film series.
After their escape, the illusionists — Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Harrelson known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in new trouble in Macau, China. The dastardly magician Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) forces the famous magicians to steal a powerful chip capable of controlling all the world’s computers. In the meantime, vengeful FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) hatches his own conspiracy against Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), whom he blames for his father’s death.
Description of Now You See Me
Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, and Jesse Eisenberg look terrific in this visually stunning thriller from the director of Rage of the Titans. As individual performers, these wizards are incredible. When they team up, they begin to hypnotize audiences worldwide with a series of daring and original heists. While pursuing a secret plan the FBI and Interpol desperately were trying to anticipate their next spectacular crime.
Now You See Me: What parents need to know?
Parents should be aware that Now You See Me is an entertaining disaster movie that may be exciting for teens interested in magic and illusions, although some of the fight scenes may be too violent for young viewers who can punch to the face, gunshots, and a fatal car crash. Viewers can also expect occasional profanity, including derivatives of the word “s–t” and a brief scene in which a naked woman sits on a man. One of the characters drinks too much at the bar, and several labels are mentioned in the film.
Is it good?
Now You See Me is extremely entertaining at its best. The thrilling stunts, set in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and New York’s Graffiti Mecca, and Five Points are a visual treat. They are compelling thanks to deft camerawork, well-choreographed voice acting by a capable cast, and effective pacing.
But in the end, the movie is an illusion that doesn’t live up to it. The best con movies let you in on the action and show you how things are going to play out so you can feel the thrill of watching them get away with it. The film series does this to some extent, but neglects it when it matters most: it reveals part of the trick, but not all of it, and asks the audience to remain in disbelief and rely on belated explanations instead of figuring things out for themselves.
This is one of the many reasons why the film is not quite right, although it is very entertaining. Add to this a mysterious subplot about a budding romance (who cares?), a wasted Kane (still in great shape, but with little to do after an initially satisfying introduction), and frustrating clichés that frankly have no place in a film with so much potential. Less smoke and mirrors and more substance could have made this film more memorable.
Talk to your children
Now You See Me demystifies some magic tricks, including some pretty complex illusions that people like to believe in. Why do you think they believe them? What does the film say about these performers?
Are the characters’ role models, are they supposed to be, and can you name other law-breaking characters who are portrayed sympathetically? And families can talk about the Four Horsemen. What drove them to greed, and altruism?
What is the story?
Leterrier’s new film, Now You See Me, is something of a return to his roots. Like his two Transporter films, it’s a slightly serious, highly stylized fantasy about a team of bank-robbing illusionists. It’s slick, intentionally silly, and peppered with visual confetti: Steadicam camera moves, lens flares, CGI stunt shots.
The film opens with the introduction of four main characters: an arrogant street magician (Jesse Eisenberg); his former assistant (Isla Fisher), whose one-man show is devoted to bloody tricks; a once-famous mentalist (Woody Harrelson) who has recently taken to using cold reading and hypnosis to con people; and a con man (Dave Franco, James’ brother) who moonlights as a pickpocket. A hooded stranger throws them each a tarot card with a date and address in New York.
A year later, we move to Las Vegas, where the four are now headlining as the Four Horsemen. In the finale, they perform an elaborate illusion in which an audience member finds himself teleported into his bank vault. He is tasked with activating the vault’s ventilation system, which sucks in a pallet of euros; seconds later, bills rain down on the audience. The audience goes crazy.
The next day, the magicians are called in for questioning by the FBI; it turns out that the bank where the audience was held has been robbed and the props used in the trick were found at the scene. The magicians are soon investigated by a tough agent (Mark Ruffalo) and an Interpol detective (Melanie Laurent); they know the Four Horsemen are involved in the crime, but can’t figure out how.
The four horsemen
The four horsemen are also pursued by a cocky ex-wizard (Morgan Freeman) who has made a fortune solving the mysteries of famous illusions. Freeman can make even the longest explanations sound good (see Christopher Nolan’s Batman films or the recent Oblivion); for the most part, that’s what he’s there for. Freeman’s transformation into an actual on-camera narrator is the cleverest trick in “Now You See Me,” especially since much of the film’s third act consists of bringing his omniscient onscreen persona back into order.
Sure, the heist has an explanation-and it’s not “magical”-but that explanation is not so much an attack on credibility as it is a denial of it. This film prides itself on its strangeness; the Four Horsemen’s methods – which include giant mirrors, doppelgangers, hypnosis, large amounts of flash paper and, holograms – are as incomprehensible as their tricks. If it had simply been revealed at the end of the film that all four are magicians, it would have been more believable.
However, it wouldn’t be all that funny. A big part of what makes “Now You See Me” so interesting – in a sort of bland, throwaway Las Vegas sort of way – is its increasing ridiculousness. After robbing a bank, the four horsemen commit a series of increasingly sophisticated heists that turn them into fugitives and folk heroes. The film, which begins as a “simple” story of a bank heist by a magician, eventually becomes a Rube Goldberg narrative construction involving conspiracies, secret identities, decades-old vendettas and hidden brotherhoods.
The 2nd half of the film
The second half of the film is actually one long chase scene, with Ruffalo and Laurent always a few steps behind the four horsemen. This is where Leterrier really seems to be in his element; the long fight scene in which Franco takes on the FBI agents by throwing cards and performing deft acrobatics is as vivid and kinetic as any Transporter film.
As with the EuropaCorp films that launched Leterrier’s career, photography dominates everything else in Now You See Me, including the importance of storytelling. Unusually, the film features two directors, both specialists in catchy, gimmicky extravaganzas: Mitchell Amundsen — “Transformers,” “Wanted”, and Larry Fong “Super 8”, as well as Zack Snyder’s “300”, “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch”.
Equally unusual-at least for an effects-heavy film-is the fact that it was shot on celluloid with anamorphic lenses. This gives the film a retro texture and a more classic widescreen feel; the tradeoff is that the digital effects look less convincing than in a film shot on digital film. But in a film where nothing is supposed to be believable, mediocre CGI seems appropriate. A movie shouldn’t look realistic, so why make it?
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