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Now You See Me (movie review)

We finally got around to watching Now You See Me this past weekend (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: blu ray load times are excessive!), and I think it’s fair to say it was not worth the wait. The premise has promise, but Now You See Me just doesn’t deliver.

(Or: “More like Now You See My ASS!“)

Anyway, the movie is watchable, but the longer it went on, the more frustrated I felt – and I think Dr. Girlfriend shared this feeling. I think review master Alonso Duralde put it best when he wrote:

“If you’re OK with the film playing you for a sap, you’ll laugh and clap and wonder how that bird got into that hat. But if you think there’s a difference between being tricked and being cheated, you may feel swindled.”

There is no way for me to express all of my grievances without spoilers, so, be forewarned: SPOILERS AHEAD!

The movie starts off in a promising enough fashion, but, very slowly, the movie began to systematically take me out of the story and get me thinking about things I shouldn’t be thinking about. For example, when they first reveal the teleportation machine, there’s this ridiculous CGI curtain effect. It looks ridiculous, there’s no reason it couldn’t of been a practical curtain (granted, a practical curtain can’t flutter around like that, but the whole exercise was totally unnecessary), but since it was CGI, then I guess the audience in the universe this movie takes place in saw the wacky CGI curtain, and they were all like “Whoa!” but.. it looked like a crappy CGI curtain, and this isn’t a Transformers movie, so… anyway, knock it off with the CGI, movie. This is a heist movie about practical stage magic, not X-Men.

As the movie rolls on, we get this elaborate an action sequence right out of Marvel Comics, featuring Gambit (Dave Franco) throwing playing cards at the Hulk in Bruce Banner form (Mark Ruffalo, who thought this movie was so ridiculous, he refused to shave even once), which eventually turns into a car chase. At the end of the car chase, Dave Franco crashes and dies. Here’s the thing, though: nobody watching this movie, for even a second, thought Dave Franco was dead. NOBODY. We’ll come back to this in a minute.

Oh, at some point near the end of the first act, they suddenly remark that they should’t pick on Dave Franco because of his youth… or something like that. This comes out of nowhere. Like my comment on this. Jarring, isn’t it? Now, back to the review!

Later in the movie, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Isla Fisher jump off a building and turn into money. Rrr… how’d those guys turn into money? See, again, this movie is about practical stage magic – it’s not god damn Harry Potter! Then, at the movie’s conclusion, it turns out that Mark Ruffalo, who was the FBI agent in charge of catching the magicians, ends up being behind the entire plot, which ultimately ruin Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman… and I didn’t buy it for a second. When the movie is going to great lengths (for nearly the entire movie) to set up that French INTERPOL agent as the puppet master and then instead jerks the rug out from under the audience, you, as Alonso Duralde put it, feel cheated, not tricked. If Mark Ruffalo was behind it all, then really, it could have been anyone:Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson or Isla Fisher would have made as much sense.

This brings us to the movie’s real problem: it can’t decide whether it should explain everything or nothing, so it does both, and it sucks. It’s poorly set up, so you know Dave Franco isn’t really dead, but the question is, how’d they do it? The movie shows you. Meanwhile, how’d they do the bubble trick? How’d they turn into money? How do they make CGI curtains pop up out of thin air? What does Michael Caine have to gain from any of this? Surely the receipts of two shows can’t be worth the investment he made… And Morgan Freeman debunks magicians… I get that people would want to know how magicians do their tricks, but they’re just that – TRICKS. Morgan Freeman’s characters portrays every stage magician as a criminal, but we all know stage magic is not actual magic, nor does it claim to be, so… what?

The movie makes no effort to answer any of these questions… it picks and chooses what to explain, like the first and last robbery (and, I guess the second? I was unclear because it was half ass), but leaves you in the dark when the answer is “We don’t give a shiz.”

Ultimately, that’s what kills this movie for me; there’s fine performances and an interesting premise, but the movie is spotty in places, a little too long and the third act kinda sucks, leaving the audience unsatisfied. It’s watchable, but I can’t recommend Now You See Me – I give it a 4 out of 10.

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com, BomberBanter.com and editor in chief of ComicBookClog.com

Posted on March 18, 2014, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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