Now You See Me
Reviewed by Kevin O’Bedlam
If you asked me my favorite genre of movie, it would be very specific. I like kitchy movies about characters that use their brains to outsmart the bad guys. Some of my favorite films are the James Bond movies, the Oceans movies, Rounders, The Social Network, Hackers, etc. So when I first saw the trailer for this film, I was immediately hopeful that it would become another entry on my list of favorites.
I, unfortunately, was disappointed. The premise of the movie sounded good enough- A team of Vegas magicians pull off heists in very public and elaborate fashions using the art of illusion. The film was not very far off this premise, but it suffered from a number of flaws.
Whenever you watch televised magic shows (where did those go, anyway?) you’re always left wondering weather or not it was just CGI or some special effect. Unfortunately, in movie form, it is obviously one of those two things, so you’re left with these big impressive tricks that fall a bit short. The strength of this film wasn’t in showing big, impressive, tricks, but in showing how they were pulled off. I admit, there were a number of times that the tricks were explained, but most of the time it was just left up to mary-sueism of the characters being some of the best performers in the world.
What I’m trying to say is that in order for this film to work, it must be grounded in reality (otherwise it’s just another super hero movie). Unfortunately this film was not. As if to make it less believable, they added in this whole secret society plot that made me audibly groan in the theater.
Woody Harrelson’s character, who was the ‘mentalist/hypnotist’ class was perhaps the most disappointing. While I love Woody Harrelson, and the character was played wonderfully, this hypnotist was able to do feats of hypnotism that (with a quick glance at wikipedia) are downright laughably impossible. Even worse than that was Isla Fisher’s character who also had the potential to be cool. She was the ‘big stage magician’ that, despite much backstory, seemed to be an escape artist. Unfortunately her character did literally nothing the entire plot-line and was basically there to say ‘alright!’ and ‘good idea!’ in the inflection that a hooters waitress would say these things. James Franco’s brother was typecast as a retard like in every movie he’s in, and Jessie Eisenberg just played Zuckerberg again.
I feel like this film started as a very good manuscript from a very talented writer that likely changed hands too many times in Hollywood and got rewritten by idiots trying to make something that will appeal to people less intelligent than themselves. But that, my friends, is the nature of the entire industry.