Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Think Ocean's Eleven with Magicians, In a Good Way: Our Review of "Now You See Me" (2013)

Directed By: Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Melanie Laurent

Rating: PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content

Run Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Synopsis: FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) teams up with an Interpol agent (Laurent) and a former magician (Freeman) to track down a team of illusionists called "The Four Horsemen," who somehow pull of bank heists during their elaborate performances and give the money to their audience.


Andrew: Hello readers! Last week Sarah and I were able to catch an advance screening of NowYou See Me, the new film directed by Louis Leterrier, who is probably best known for directing The Transporter and The Incredible Hulk. Now You See Me stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco as a quartet of illusionists…

Sarah: Called “The Four Horsemen”…

A: Who make a name for themselves with elaborate stage shows, during which they pull off bank heists and give the money they've stolen to their crowd, which naturally draws the attention of the feds. Mark Ruffalo plays the FBI put in charge of figuring out how they do it, and Melanie Laurent, - best known for playing Shoshanna in Inglourious Basterds - plays an Interpol agent who is assigned to work with Ruffalo.

S: Michael Caine plays the casino owner who pays for the grand shows the Four Horsemen put on, and Morgan Freeman plays an older magician who now gets rich by debunking magic tricks with online videos, essentially breaking the magician’s code.

A: It's a great cast. This is a film we've been looking forward to, as the trailers intrigued us, the concept intrigued us, and we both like movies about magic.

S: True story. I'm a big fan of The Illusionist, Andrew's a big fan of The Prestige, and while it's not a great film we both enjoyed the magic stuff in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. So we were all in for Now You See Me.

I'm actually going to let you take lead on this one, because I want to know what you thought of Now You See Me.

A: Now You See Me is arguably one of the most fun movies I've seen in a movie theatre in a long time. I really, really enjoyed this movie, primarily because of the very good cast led by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Ruffalo. But also, I just really like the story and I liked the magic. I liked where this movie went, what it did...this was the rare movie where I couldn't figure out the mystery.

S:There's a mystery that runs throughout the entire movie about who brought these four individual illusionists and street magicians together to pull off these stunts...

A: And Mark Ruffalo's Agent Rhodes is not only trying to find out how the Four Horsemen are pulling off these heists, but also trying to figure out who this mysterious figure is.

Michael Kelly (left, House of Cards) and Mark Ruffalo (center) play the FBI agents tasked with tracking down
the Four Horsemen. Melanie Laurent (right) is an Interpol agent helping out with the investigation. For all
intents and purposes, Ruffalo is the main character in the film.

S: The magicians are teetering on the line of the law. They're stealing money and giving it to their crowds...

A: They're playing Robin Hood.

S: They're playing Robin Hood, which is illegal, so Ruffalo is tasked with bringing them down. It's his trek to figure out what the magic is, how they're doing it, and with the help of Morgan Freeman he's really trying to bring these guys down. Because of this I actually thought that the main character was Ruffalo's Agent Rhodes.

A: I agree.

S: The movie was really focused on him. Let me say, too, that I liked this movie. Like you I thought it was a lot of fun, but I thought it could have used more magic instead of focusing so much on Ruffalo's character. They showed enough, but I like seeing magic tricks and things like that.

A: So do I, but there were a fair amount here. Especially during the Four Horsemen's second show, there was a montage of different tricks they were doing. I liked following Ruffalo around because he was essentially supposed to be like us in the audience, trying to figure out what's going on.

Something that was kind of fun was that all the four main magician characters are introduced separately, showing each of them in the middle of one of their acts or doing what they do...

S: And those were really cool tricks.

A: They ranged from simple street magic and slight of hand to Woody Harrelson's hypnosis/cold-reading. So that was fun. But this movie is really more about misdirection. Even in the trailer they keep saying, "The closer you think you are, the less you'll actually see." That's the overriding lesson that Ruffalo's character learns as he goes along.

S: But here's the thing - what was clever about the marketing is that it's essentially "the closer you look, the less you'll see," so I was focused on the big picture the whole time. And I still missed it! That's what was genius about this movie. The marketing basically told you to not look close, look at the whole picture and try to figure it out. And when I still couldn't figure it out? Oh man. I was convinced it was somebody else.

Changing topics, I thought the acting was strong in this one. I'm not a big fan of the Franco family, which we've talked about before, and I think that Dave isn't any better than his brother but he was okay here because he didn't have a really big part. He was really the fourth of the Four Horsemen. He was the youngest and obviously least experienced. 

Then we had someone who's far more experienced and is really a fading star in Harrelson's Merritt, you have a rising star in Eisenberg's David, and we have the former assistant who went off on her own with Fisher's Henley. So we really have all the aspects of the magician profession I think.

Dave Franco (bottom), Jesse Eisenberg (back), Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson (right) play "The Four Horsemen" -
four individual illusionists/magicians who are brought together by a mystery man and pull off bank heists
during their performances.

A: The casting was just really well done. Eisenberg's David is the smarmy, cocksure magician...

S: And once again, he plays cocky very well.

A: Harrelson gets to play off of Eisenberg again like they did so well in Zombieland - Harrelson was actually my favorite character in the whole movie...

S: Isla Fisher gets to play a strong, independent woman instead of just a bubbly air-head love interest like she does a lot.

A: Ruffalo was perfect as the successful FBI agent who can't believe he's chasing after magicians, Caine and Freeman basically play themselves but that's cool because everyone loves them, and I really liked seeing Melanie Laurent in a film like this. Because she played a French Interpol agent her accent was just fine...

S: And she has a different kind of beauty to her that I really liked. I like that she played the yin to Ruffalo's yang, and gave him a love interest in the movie, too. 

A: But really the best part of the movie is that the story is really, really good. The mystery is really good. This is basically like Ocean's Eleven with street magicians.

S: I definitely felt that way as we were watching it.

A: I felt that it's a real good heist movie. There are three different heists that the Four Horsemen pull off, and I caught on by the third one in how they pulled it off, but I was still thrown for a loop when it was revealed how all three acts were done in conjunction with one another. So that was really well done in my mind.

This was just a fun movie. I really don't find too much to fault with it, because the more I think back on it the more I appreciate it. I really want to see this again through different eyes now that I know its secrets.

S: Mhmm. With knowing eyes, really.

A: Exactly. The only bad thing I can think of was that sometimes the cinematography was too flashy. Sometimes Leterrier fell in love with circling around the characters or going around the rooms they were in.

S: Even with the last performance, the last heist, I wish that they had focused more on the magicians and their set-up. I felt like it was moving past me, so I was like, "Wait, wait, wait! I want to actually see it!"

A: The cameras did move around a lot in this movie.

S: Yeah, so I felt like I wanted to watch it, I wanted to really watch their magic trick but there was a lot of swooping around and a lot of helicopter work. 

A: Very kinetic visuals in this film. But overall Leterrier did a fine job directing, particularly the foot chase in New Orleans and the big car chase about two-thirds of the way through the movie.

S: That chase was exciting! Seriously, the whole movie is just a lot of fun. It's genius.

A: Honestly I think this is going to be a sleeper hit when it comes out on Friday. It's just fun. It really is. I could go on about things I like...

S: But we don't want to drone and we don't want to spoil anything. We definitely say go see this in theatres. It's a fun film, you'll feel like you're watching an Ocean's movie. It really is the best way to describe it. It's kind of formulaic like an Ocean's movie where everything goes down and then they explain it to you at the end, and I love that.

A: A lot of this movie is ridiculous...

S: Oh it's very ridiculous! But so are the Ocean's movies.

A: Yeah, but I also mean with some of the magic. They almost seem to be able to teleport from one place to another, that's how fast they disappear from one spot and appear in another.

S: Small quibbles. This is a movie about magic, we can live with it. I definitely think this is one that you should see in theatres...

A: Honestly I think this is a must-see and it's one that I want to own someday on DVD/Blu-ray. I just feel like it's rewatchability is going to be very high.

S: Absolutely agreed.

FINAL VERDICT:  A must-see in theatres!

(Individual Scores - S: 4/5  A: 4.5/5)

Photo Courtesies: firstshowing.netfilmofilia.comfanpop.com


  1. Very good review and I agree with you both completely. I actually got passes for my father to see a screening he day before I did (in different states) and he loved it too. I wouldn't mind seeing it again on the big screen, although who has time for that? :-)

  2. Hello. I linked to your review in a recent post I put up. Im putting your positive review against another sites negative review and haveing readers vote

  3. 3rd good review I have read about this film this morning. The trailer looked good and I was interested but then those lot RT scores scared me away. Looks like I might have to check this one out after all.