Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Movie Review: “Now You See Me”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

   Morgan Freeman needs no critique as he is always exactly how you expect him to be...great. Mark Ruffalo, a standout in Avengers, delivers a stellar performance here. Also no surprise was Woody Harrelson...he has an abundance of skill and was on his game. New to me were Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco and Isla Fisher. Along with Harrelson, these three rounded out what was known as The Four Horsemen, and they delivered excellent performances in their roles. The chemistry between them was real and a nod to a particular action sequence by Franco that will make you remember his name.

   The closer you look, the less you’ll see. A great tagline for a film if ever there was one...especially for this film. Four magicians (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Franco, Fisher) are mysteriously brought together for reason unknown and a year later are performing together as The Four Horsemen. With each of them specializing in a different type of magic, their combined acts are riveting...but also have distinct purpose. Each show is connected to a larger puzzle that is cultivated by years of planning.

   After their first show, wherein they seemingly rob a bank in France...from Las Vegas, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) and Interpol Officer Dray (Melanie Laurent) bring them in for questioning and so begins the cat and mouse game as law enforcement seeks to prove their culpability in the crime, while trying to stop them from committing more. Emphasis on the word “try.”

   Eventually, Rhodes and Dray seek out the expertise of Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman), an ex-magician, world renowned and very wealthy, from making a living exposing the tricks of other magicians. His insights become invaluable to the case, but also expose the fact that there is something very sinister and profound going on that even he can’t figure out. As the magic becomes more mind blowing, and the crimes more brazen, only one thing is truly obvious...the closer you look, the less you’ll see.

   From the beginning of the film when we are introduced to the four magicians in their natural states of performing, it’s quite clear that the magic in the film is going to be spectacular. Predicated on misdirection as a theme, this comes through in the opening sequences as well as the sleight-of-hand antics of Jack Wilder (Franco) don’t seem all that impressive, until they are put to use and in a situation that shows just how amazing his talent really is. 

   There isn’t a bad performance in the film, by anyone. The movie flows with a quick, but deliberate pace, never really taking any time to develop any single character profoundly, but instead focuses on the idea that everything being shown has a greater purpose...that there is a bigger scheme at work and if you look closely, you might be able to see it, while proving just the opposite.

   The magic tricks are spectacular. I love to watch magic, so every sequence in the film where it was showcased was just pure joy for me. The film does an excellent job of showing us what was really going on, by choosing the perfect time to reveal when it was going on. 

   The plot was a bit of a stretch, but once the pieces finally came together, the simplicity of it all was acceptable...even though the presentation was complicated. There will be no Oscar nominations for this isn’t that type of movie. There is no profound drama. There is plenty of action...and a fair helping of comedy for the witty-minded, giving this film a very high entertainment quotient. It is the type of film that can be watched more than once, even after everything is revealed...and that is a rare thing. With a wave of a wand and speaking of the magic phrase, this film makes four, out of five, cinnamon sticks disappear from my cup of tea.

Rating: 4/5

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