Now You See Me

My first thought was that this film would at least explain some of the secrets behind the magic tricks they featured. And it does, though sadly none of them were very exciting secrets. I also thought that a movie with both Michael Caine (Dark Knight Rises) and Morgan Freeman (Oblivion) in it couldn't possibly be all bad, but this one comes awfully close.

Part of the problem is that apparently I can't tolerate Jesse Eisenberg (30 Minutes or Less) when he's playing an obnoxious, overconfident geek instead of just a regular geek. His character has the unlikely name of J. Daniel Atlas, so maybe he thinks he's the Atlas or something. He and his three partners make up the magic team of The Four Horsemen, even though no horses are involved, nor is any conquest, war, famine, or death. Well, there is a death mentioned, but mostly this is all about grand theft.

Anyway, Woody Harrelson from the Hunger Games series is Merritt McKinney, the mentalist of the bunch -- you know, the one who has you write numbers down so that he can guess what they are and impress everyone. He also hypnotizes people. Isla Fisher of The Great Gatsby is the escape artist, Henley Reeves. And Dave Franco of Warm Bodies is Jack Wilder, who picks pockets and is remarkably good at beating the crap out of people.

Those are the robbers, so now it's time for the cops, in this case the FBI. In charge is Mark Ruffalo (Avengers) as Dylan Rhodes, and helping out is Michael Kelly of Chronicle as Agent Fuller. Since the crew robs a bank in Paris, as you may have seen in the previews, Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds ) also gets involved. Good thing, too, since she's the only really likable character in the film. I'm fairly sure that was all the actress' doing, though, since she gets little help from the script.

Anyway, Dylan gets stuck with the unenviable task of proving that four magicians in Las Vegas robbed a bank in France via teleportation. After that it's basically a chase, with the magicians always a step or two ahead of the good guys on their trail. Morgan Freeman tags along watching everything, as Thaddeus Bradley, a James Randi-like debunker of magicians who does TV shows and webcasts revealing their secrets. One of his targets, in fact, ended up dead because his career tanked and he attempted an incredibly difficult trick in order to become popular again -- and it went horribly wrong. Really, I'm not sure that such a thing would happen, since tricks get explained all the time, but that's how it goes here.

The whole movie is deeply improbable, though, so one more such problem doesn't matter. It's like a cartoon where even the laws of physics bend to the Roadrunner's will. The good news is that I didn't see the final twist at the end coming, but the bad news is that I didn't see it coming partly because it's ridiculous and partly because I had stopped caring about a third of the way through.

I'll go with two and three-quarters out of five. If the box-office numbers are anything to go by, I may be alone in this opinion, but three seems too high for a movie I'll never want to see again, and I'm trying to avoid using fractions like seven-eighths. Just remember, it's all done with mirrors.

The symbol of the Four Horsemen. If it means anything, they don't explain what.


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