Louis Leterrier‘s latest magic caper film Now You See Me is a slick, funny and fast-paced little crime film. Its widespread cast helps make the tricks stick, even when the film’s attempted twists and turns come up empty-handed. Now You See Me isn’t a film without problems, but it’s also a film that knows how to move quick enough to make it worth a viewing.
J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) are four very talented magicians. They’ve been mysteriously called together to form a group called The Four Horsemen and together they plan and execute a series of tricks that turn into full-fledged heists.
This grabs the attention of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent). Together, the two agents must track down and capture the Horsemen, while also figuring out how they did it and what they might do next.
Who’s pulling their strings and how are they getting away with stealing millions of dollars? Is there real magic involved or is there something that the audience simply isn’t seeing?
Louis Leterrier‘s Now You See Me is almost the perfect movie to be releasing right around this time. The summer blockbuster season is kicking into high gear, which means expensive studio films and gigantic superhero flicks. Man of Steel, World War Z and Pacific Rim are all on the horizon, which means now is the perfect chance for a slick little caper film like Now You See Me to shine.
Leterrier casts a wide variety of faces, ranging from new and up-and-coming like Dave Franco and Jesse Eisenberg, to established and well-known like Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson and Michael Caine. There’s also a considerable amount of range spread out among his stars. This helps the film feel fresh and fun, even when the plot runs out of its magical steam.
A film like Now You See Me is only as good as its grand finale reveal. You watch films like this because you want to see what the secret to the trick is plain and simple. It’s the director’s responsibility to keep things cleverly wrapped up until the very end, where he or she must not only deliver the secret, but make it one that was worth the wait.
And that’s where Now You See Me fumbles. Everything leading up until the finale is great, especially the opening recruit segment. The film moves fast and almost always stays one or two steps ahead of you. Thinking back on it won’t be to difficult too string things together, but nothing is too obvious. The film gets by on its humor and speed, because a film like this can never slow down or become too serious.
Leterrier relies on the chemistry between the Horsemen and the chemistry between the two agents tracking them down. The Horsemen are cocky, funny and somewhat mysterious in their plans, while the two agents are constantly butting heads and yet sometimes making a little progress. It’s a great contrast that keeps the film balancing on dumb thrills and entertainment.
There’s not a single standout performance that makes Now You See Me something of a career highpoint, but it is worth noting that everyone in this film turns in good work. Eisenberg and Harrelson lead the Horsemen with a constant flow of witty comedy, while Ruffalo puts on his big boy shoes as the film’s overly serious non-believer of magic.
Now You See Me almost gets away with it all too, if it wasn’t for the big reveal. Leterrier’s film fizzles out, much like a good card trick gone wrong. The reveal of a particular character is predictable and yet it’s still not even the film’s biggest problem. What follows the reveal is where the film loses all of its credit.
There’s absolutely no closure or explanation whatsoever. You’re simply told the who and partially the why, but not in any way that actually makes sense for the characters in the film. It’s by far the dumbest and most disappointing reveal that I’ve seen this year, especially for a film like this.
Now You See Me never looked like a genre-changing thriller. It simply looked like a fun little crime caper about magicians pulling off unbelievable heists. It mostly works under those intentions until the ending, which deflates and collapses in a matter of minutes. Louis Leterrier‘s lack of control on the film’s closing moments leaves a bitter aftertaste that might cause you to react negatively and forget about everything else that was working up until that point.
I still enjoyed the film and I’d definitely suggest seeking it out on a slow day, especially if you’re sick of all of the loud and noisy tentpole films that have been clogging up the cinemas — I’m looking at you Iron Man 3 and Fast & Furious 6. Now You See Me is a nice change of pace that will keep your mind busy for most of its running time. Just expect an ending that doesn’t quite live up to the film’s potential.
Now You See Me – 7/10