"First rule of magic: always be the smartest person in the room."
The latest film directed by Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans, The Incredible Hulk, and The Transporter) is probably one of his weakest efforts, only competing against Clash of the Titans. If the first rule in magic means you have to be the smartest person in the room, then the first rule to enjoy this movie is that you have to be one of the dumbest persons in the audience. The movie tries to make us think that the more we look the less we will see, kind of like telling us the more we think about the movie the less we will enjoy it. So it is trying to keep our mind centered on the nice tricks and great cast, but trying to keep us away from thinking too deeply at the absurdity of the plot. Now You See Me is all an illusion and the more you think about it the more you know that the tricks and twists are a bit beyond belief. It is a pity because I really like this cast (seeing Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine back together after the Batman trilogy was something I was looking forward too) and they aren't bad in this movie either, but the problem I had with it was that the screenplay was pretty weak and the tricks were unbelievable. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against smart heist films that use magic and illusions, but this doesn't even deserve to stand against other films in the genre such as Oceans 11 that accomplishes this feat way better than this. The characters could have been developed so much better, but the film introduces them in such a lazy way that I didn't really get emotionally involved with them. I know all the movies don't have to be smart and believable, but at least those that aren't manage to engage and involve the audience in an entertaining way. I didn't feel that way about this silly movie. I didn't feel tricked either, I felt cheated on with such dumb twists.
The film begins by introducing us to four different magicians that are all being recruited by some sort of mystery man. First there is J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) who is doing a classic card trick in front of an audience in the street and picking up a girl while he's at it. Then there is Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), who is hypnotizing a woman while blackmailing her husband. The third magician is Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) who is performing a dangerous stunt involving a pool and piranhas. And finally there is Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) a con-magician who distracts people with cheap tricks while stealing from them. These four magicians are all recruited by a mysterious man who gives them a blue print of some great tricks they can work on together. The film then jumps a year forward where we see these four magicians working on an act together in Las Vegas. They are known as the Four Horseman and they are about to pull a live bank robbery from the stage. This is where the FBI comes in as lead investigator Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) begins to pursue the case along with his assigned partner from Interpol, Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent). With no definite proof to arrest these magicians they must work together before their next heist takes place. For this, they enlist the help of Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a profesional illusion exposer and former magician himself. But be warned, nothing is what it seems in this film as the twists begin.
I had high expectations for Now You See Me because it had an interesting premise and the cast involved was excellent. They are all really talented and honestly they did a good job with the weak script they had to work with. My biggest issue was the story which didn't make much sense. I won't mention the issues because I don't want to give away spoilers, but everything pretty much seemed false. I didn't believe the twists and turns the film took. I also thought the entire hypnotic sequences were kind of a cheat to explain how they could perform most of the tricks. The film really defies logic and I had a problem with that considering I never got emotionally involved with the characters in order to forgive those faults and simply enjoy the movie for what it is. I can forgive films that don't make sense as long as the audience is allowed to have fun with the premise and be entertained with what is going on, but that didn't happen with me. I won't be recommending Now You See Me to anyone, but I know some fans will have a good time thanks to the illusions and tricks that the director plays on us.