Movies centered on magic have always held an allure for me, and as such I am a fan of The Prestige and The Illusionist. Now You See Me, though not boasting the smart story telling of Nolan’s The Prestige, is a huge spectacle of eye popping visuals, grand shows and the magnetism to keep the audience invested. It is a summer movie that has become a rarity in this age of effects-laden, no-brainer, action heavy, franchise bait movies; this is a movie that also has brains. And herein lies its ability to captivate the audience.
Now You See Me is about a group of four member magic team called The Four Horsemen who pull off heists during their and distribute the money to the poor. Thrown in the mix are a rough and grumpy FBI agent, a beautiful French Interpol Agent, a millionaire who finances the team and a TV phenomenon who debunks magic tricks. There is a lot of intrigue as to how the tricks shown on screen are pulled off and the audience tries to figure out by themselves by looking for clues onscreen. Also, there is the lingering question of ‘why’ the Horsemen are doing what they are doing. This is the basic premise of the plot and like a good magic trick, any extra information will only spoil the fun.
One of the best things about this movie was the impeccable casting. The Four Horsemen consists of Woody Harrelson (in one of his usual scene stealing roles), Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Jesse Eisenberg. The FBI agent and the Interpol Agent tracking them are played by Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent. Michael Caine plays the financier of the magic quartet and Morgan Freeman as the debunk-er. This is an impressive list and it shows on screen. Everybody on the cast have their moments, and the stand outs have to be Ruffalo and Harrelson. There is one scene consisting of screen legends Freeman and Caine together, who despite starring in The Dark Knight Trilogy were not given the opportunity to share screen together (until the very end of The Dark Knight Rises). The to and fro between the Four Horsemen is pretty good and you can feel that they are a team, that they have a chemistry together. Thus, a very strong cast had a lot to do with making this such an enjoyable trip.
The thing that I liked most was that the movie was exactly what it set out to deliver. This was a summer blockbuster and it provided with the necessary thrills, action, spectacular visuals, and playful banter. The director knew that foremost this was going to be an audience’s movie. They need to be involved in the story in order to enjoy it. Too many summer movies just ignore this fact and are hell bent on creating bigger and bigger action scenes. Summer entertainments should be like this: fun but with enough smarts so that by the end the viewer doesn’t feel as if they just spent their money on some pixels destroying each other on a big screen. In conclusion: the movie succeeds because it’s good old fashioned entertainment.