MOVIE REVIEW: Now You See Me

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Film: Now You See Me
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg
Directed by: Louis Leterrier

Following the less than incredible debut of Burt Wonderstone earlier this year, Now You See Me hits theaters this weekend hoping to prove there is still gold to be found in movies about magicians. Relying on slick editing, fast storytelling, and a brilliantly witty “who-dun-it” narrative, it might just pull off the impossible.

If you’re going to see a movie about magicians who come together to rob banks, you need to be willing to let a few things slide in terms of set up, character development, and what you consider plausible. In order for a story like this to work, viewers need to be given the bare minimum amount of information up front, then slowly be fed tidbits of information over the course of the film in such a way that things stay interesting without completely unraveling. For the most part, Now You See Me manages to do this well, briefly introducing us to our four seemingly opposite magicians with various skill sets before throwing them together for the meat of the film in a sequence that leaves viewers with questions until (and probably after) the final frames of the picture. If you can accept being kept at arm’s reach, please read on.

After the aforementioned backstory is laid out, Now You See Me jumps a year ahead in time to find our band of misfits now working together under the name The Four Horseman. We meet them on the night of their debut performance, and after a flurry of tiny illusions the group select a random member from the audience on the promise they will then rob the bank of that person’s choosing. The man picks a bank that lies overseas, but sure enough the man soon finds himself in the bank’s vault. He returns to the magician’s show, as does hundreds of thousands of dollars, and suddenly everyone from the government to the notable names of magic want to know how it was done. No one left the stage, yet they actually robbed a bank? Could magic be real?

It’s at this point the story switches perspectives, and viewers find themselves working with agents tasked with taking down The Four Horseman. It’s a logical twist from a storytelling perspective, but what it’s actually doing in the overall scheme of things is taking what was only a handful of questions viewers had and tripling the confusion. By putting moviegoers on the side of the law viewers are left as in the dark as the characters they’re following, and in the end its slowly building tension of trying to understand just what is happening that makes the final payoff so rewarding. There’s not one, not two, but at least three major twists, and based on the reaction heard during a screening earlier this week they each work like gangbusters.

What Now You See Me lacks in character development and emotional depth it more than makes up for in storytelling. As Jesse Eisenberg’s character says many times, “the closer you look, the less you’ll see,” and it’s in the film’s ability to keep you constantly guessing that it finds its success. Once you think you’ve figured it out, things change, and even when the credits begin to roll you’ll probably second guess yourself. This is 100% pure fun at the movies, and those looking for true escapism this summer should definitely seek it out.

Score: B+

Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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