HT Schuyler: Now You See Me Review

Posted: June 6, 2013 by htschuyler in HT Schuyler's Movie Reviews


Rated PG for action, language and minor sexual content.

Directed by: Louis Leterrier.

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Mélanie Laurent, Michael J. Kelly and Michael Caine.

Four magicians, all with a certain set of skills relating to the act of magic, get called together by a mysterious hooded figure to form the “Four Horsemen”. Those magicians are Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and Jack Wilder (James Franco). Together they perform three acts, the first one gaining the attention of the FBI when their act steals over 3 million dollars from a French bank. They are then followed by Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and his Interpol partner Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent), who will stop at nothing until he stops the Horsemen. Along the way they encounter Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) who is a magician debunker, who explains how magicians pull off their elaborate tricks. The film follows these characters as the Horsemen perform their tricks and the FBI get closer to uncovering their dark secrets, all leading to a big finale with an obligatory twist. So, that’s the premise of Now You See Me, now will you see it?

The film has a surprisingly large and talented cast, casting greats such as Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, and rising talents like Jesse Eisenberg, Melanie Laurent and Dave Franco. Sometimes with these large ensemble casts films there is problems with giving everyone enough screen time and developing characters with so many other ones to attend to as well, but for the most part everyone is given something to do and enough time to make an impression. That being said, some characters feel very forced in their motivations and eventual resolutions, and certain characters, especially Arthur Tressler (played by Michael Caine) are completely forgotten by the end of the film. Despite the marketing for the film, the main cast members that the film seems to be focusing on aren’t even the main focus. While the Four Horsemen are definitely the driving force for all the actions in the film, the real main character is actually Mark Ruffalo, and he does a great job at carrying the film. Watching him trying to figure out their schemes and his reactions to them getting the better of him are very entertaining, and he makes a great protagonist. Mélanie Laurent is great as always, but her character feels very underdeveloped and the forced love subplot they give her is utterly pathetic in it’s execution. The Four Horsemen themselves are all very good, bringing a great deal of charm, charisma and also mystery to their performances, really giving you the impression that they are indeed one step ahead of the audience. Morgan Freeman is great as always, I mean what more can I really say? He’s great as the smart ass know-it-all who makes fun of the people who he feels are inferior in the scene. He plays a very crucial role in the film and the pay off with him is unexpected and tense. Michael Caine is also great but as I said before, it would have been nice to see more of him.

The Good:

Louis Leterrier is a very competent director, and he brings a great deal of energy to the film. His fast paced direction and the witty dialogue compliment each other very well and the movie comes off as more of a heist film than a mystery one, with moments of comedy but also tense action scenes that are very impressively shot. There is a great scene with Dave Franco fighting two cops using tricks and wittiness to overcome his foes. It’s fast paced, fun to watch and very satisfying, especially with its conclusion and later pay off. Despite some annoyances with the amount of CG used, the scenes where the Four Horsemen are performing their shows are very entertaining, feeling like you really are at one of their shows, except you don’t get a lot of money at the end. The movie has a lot of really fun scenes with fast paced action, great conclusions and enough mystery to keep one invested.

Oh, and the soundtrack, composed by Brian Tyler, is very tense and awesome, really adding an extra level of excitement to the scenes.

The Bad:

As I mentioned earlier, their is a love subplot that really comes out of nowhere and honestly felt pretty out of place for the characters, which I know is not an uncommon thing in movies but here it really takes you out of the film and felt beyond forced. Also some of the tension in the magic scenes can be ruined slightly but the overuse of CG, especially when practical effects would have been much more effective and probably easier to do. The main problem I had with this film was the ending, which I won’t spoil of course but honestly felt like such an after-thought on the writers part, and was extremely out of character and seemed to only be there for the sake of having a twist ending. I could look past it but it really changes the way one had previously perceived the events in the film and just overall felt pointless.

In Conclusion:

While there is a lot I really enjoyed about this film, my overall issue with it is that it’s completely unremarkable. It’s entertaining, it’s a lot of fun, there are some great performances and it is very well directed, but at the end of the day it’s just a fun film that, while enjoyable as it may be while watching, it probably won’t be remembered as fondly as some of the others films this year. It’s not something one should rush out and see, but that being said, it’s still a good film, just not as memorable as some of the other films currently out. If you have no interest in this film then you can afford to skip it, but if you watched the trailer and thought it might be something you’re interested it, I would recommended it.


  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review HT. It is a fun movie that likes to play around with it’s genre conventions, but after awhile, playing turns into cheating, which made me feel like I wasn’t watching a movie. Instead, I was watching someone just do a bunch of crazy and cool camera tricks, to ultimately trick me into thinking everything I am seeing is real and shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt.

  2. reel411 says:

    well, this is certainly one of the more positive reviews i’ve read

  3. ianthecool says:

    Hmm, not hearing great things about this, and your “completely unremarkable” comment makes me want to just pass on this.

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