Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Now You See Me

Lowdown: Once they rob a bank during a live show, everybody’s after a group of four illusionists.
Now You See Me seems to have everything going for it. The cast includes names such as Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Bastards), Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Caine, and even one Morgan Freeman. Seriously, wow. Then there is all the marketing hype, with teasers showing how a group of illusionists comes on everyone’s sights as they pull of the seemingly impossible. Wow again. I had to see Now You See Me, didn’t I?
Well, in retrospect, this is a clear case of Don’t See Me. Not now or ever.
The plot has a mysterious character recruiting for small time illusionists, each with their own speciality. A pickpocket, a hypnotiser, an escape artists, etc. Next thing we know these four become a team, and next thing we know they’re hosting their own live magic show in the grandest venue possible for magicians – Vagas (all those who said meh, I hear you). In front of a full house including their sponsor (Caine) and an illusionist specialising in exposing the techniques used by fellow illusionists (Freeman), our crew does the impossible. A randomly picked member of the crowd goes out to rob his home bank branch back in France and steal millions, all during the show!
Which is where the police, headed by Ruffalo’s character, steps in. And because the crime took place in France, he’s given the token [French] female character to fill the role of the sexy assistant with the moral compass (Laurent). Thus starts this cat and mouse catch me if you can affair between all the previously mentioned characters. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Well, no. There are numerous faults at hand here, and I will count just a few.
First, the relatively large number of characters means that non is properly developed. Fisher’s, for example, hardly get her screen time. The implication is that Now You See Me is a film of stereotypes.
Second, illusions don’t work that well in a movie. When the viewer knows everything can be created using digital effects, hiding that rabbit in the hat is as exciting as watching paint being applied. This fault is made worse through things that simply do not make sense, such as Harrelson’s character ability to hypnotise people to the point of gaining total control over them in just one second.
And third, the movie tries too hard. This one is all about keeping its viewer surprised by the next plot twist. A fine aspiration, I agree, but it comes at a price. Plot twists either rely on crucial information kept hidden from us and then revealed just at the right time, or on something being too silly to conceive. The former fault is there but can be lived with; the latter is there in way too high a quantity.
Come the end of this affair I could not believe I just wasted two hours of my life on something so shallow. Worse, I could not believe all the talent this movie features had several months of their lives sacrificed on such a dud.
Overall: I guess I got myself overworked over typical Hollywood shallowness with this one. Regardless, I would advise steering away from this 2 out of 5 crabs mind numbing time waster.

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