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Now You See Me - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Now You See Me
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: B-
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+

Some cheese is actually really good, you know. Okay, okay. This isn't the best cheese out there. But it's not half bad.

There's a key similarity between a placebo and a magic trick. Both are illusions. Hmm. Does that put the placebo effect in the category of magic? There's a fascinating illusion to Now You See Me: it feels like a good movie, so long as you're willing to let yourself go to it. In retrospect, it isn't, really. But does that matter? If you surrender yourself to a movie like this, and the placebo effect takes hold, what difference does it make? Isn't the experience the same? What I'm trying to say is, I had fun watching this movie.

The story is the same as in a hundred movies before it, complete with plot twists within plot twists. That's clearly intended to be part of the fun. In this case, director Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans) simply takes a broadly paint-by-numbers script and puts it in the context of magic, and magicians. If that seems a little hokey, well, it is. Leterrier treats the magic profession like something more inherently noble than it could ever possibly be, even while transparently trying to keep us wondering if these magicians are up to no good.

The more this movie goes on, the more preposterous it gets. Four magicians (played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco, who practically looks like his brother James's twin, which is a little distracting) answer what look like Tarot calling cards, and subsequently mount increasingly impressive stunts, each with greater global reach. When it appears they have robbed a bank in Italy while in Las Vegas, an FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) begins to pursue them, with increasing frustration as, of course, the magicians always seem to be one step ahead of them.

Added to the mix are a hugely wealthy benefactor (Michael Caine) and a professional magic debunker (Morgan Freeman). It's interesting to see Morgan Freeman play a character with motives that are unclear, if not dubious. There's something inherently cynical about any deep need to see magic tricks explained, with the possible exception of those who want to be magicians themselves. On the other hand, many scenes in Now You See Me actually explain how many of the tricks are pulled off, and that's actually one of the most fun things about it.

That's not to say, necessarily, that this story is unpredictable. For me it was, but only because that's how I approach most movies: I don't spend time trying to figure things out, opting instead always to be surprised. So, when the greatest twist of all came along, I was actually kind of thrown for a loop. I'm sure many others saw it coming a mile away. Maybe this is a recommended movie for the willfully ignorant. It worked for me!

Mark Ruffalo, Mélanie Laurent and Jesse Eisenberg create the illusion of a good movie in NOW YOU SEE ME.

Overall: B
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