I just remembered an interview for the promotion for Now You See Me (2013) where Morgan Freeman had fallen asleep. Now was that because of his age getting the better of him or had he lost faith in the film he was contracted to promote. Sat along with Michael Caine who just laughed it off. I decided at the time to pass on the film, feeling it was style over substance. I think just recently I had a soft moment and gave into to the terrestrial premiere of the film. I guess part of me was curious as to what I would be seeing behind the smoke and mirrors of this magicians meets bank robbers film.
Now that I have less time to write my reviews I have to feel more driven to actually take the time out to do this for one reason or another. I felt that this was one of those films that I had to…rant about. There is little I can really praise about this film. The mark of a good film is if at least you are entertained by the story, swept away to a place of wonder, not thinking about your own life. I felt my feet were firmly on the ground. Well my back-side to the chair if I’m honest. There was a moment at the start where these four separate magicians are all lone artists of their trade, as we learn what their style and signature is. None of them are likeable at all. From the sarcastic J.Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) who is about to get his leg over when we discover he’s all about the next gig. The one dimensional psychic hypnotist con-artist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) who proving to one couple how he can ruin their lives..or not. Actually they are all one-dimensionally really, Played by actors who mostly are worth more than this style over substance smoke and mirrors.
Yes I know films are based on the ideas of smoke and mirrors, we are left wondering how the makers pulled it all off. I for one turned away when I saw a post that revealed how the bear in The Revenant (2015) was achieved. Somethings are better off left alone. Now there are films where you invest in the characters, get to know them and want to know how they pulled off the heist. Those sort are called Oceans Eleven (2001), which comes down to some clever writing and direction. The editing of the flashbacks and cutaways works, so intricate and precise, stylish and sophisticated. I felt that Now You See Me was playing off that style, trying to pay homage but failing. The fun of magic is that you are left wondering how they hell they pulled it off. Yes there are shows that reveal it all, killing it really.
Returning to the older characters Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) and Arthur Tressler (Caine) who we follow. Tressler for a while looks like the guy who is funding the heists, before he is made a fool of in-front of a live audience whose fortunes are improved at Tressler’s expense. Whilst throughout the film Bradley seems to be switching sides, being a failed magician he knows a thing or to about the tricks that are leading the FBI around in circles. There’s a time when Bradley and Tressler team up but that only goes so far before we loose track of it completely. It just fizzles out and not mentioned.
Going back to the FBI we have one decent casting or typecasting in Agent Fuller (Michael Kelly) who is just playing himself in another character role of the hard-nosed agent. The other two that we follow lead investigator Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and interpol officer Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) who just don’t agree on anything even which way the investigation should go in. They say opposites attract, but should they here? That moment comes too late on in the film to really feel natural, tacked on for a reason that is beyond me.
As they finally home in on the Four Horsemen (not of the apocalypse) begin their final show, which has seen them steal money and give to the poor, the down trodden. A more perfectly timed film if it was released just after the recession this would be more relevant. It feels too greedy and at the same time completely pointless. Its a lot of show that really does nothing with characters you can’t invest in because they are always messing around. I know its supposed to be light and fun but your can’t enjoy it when your heads in a constant spin. The big reveal just makes no sense like the rest of the film so I felt I had wasted my time overall. I’m just scratching my head now as to why there is a second one being released in the summer…oh yeah the money.