June 4, 2013

"Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see."
It's been a while since magic hits the theatre. I still remember how Nolan practically squeezed my brain with The Prestige, forcing me to see and think beyond ordinary, as I was quickly falling to his dark twisted scheme. It was quite an experience I can say. Now, the real question is, was Louis Leterrier (Transporter, Clash of The Titans) able to create another magical illusion through this movie?

Random street-magicians quickly gathered and teamed-up after receiving a mysterious tarot-card invitation, and they're now calling themselves The Four Horsemen. The gang which consist of an awkwardly brilliant illusionist Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) with his former escaping-pro beautiful assistant, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), a mind-reader slash mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and a rookie pickpocket master Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) quickly built a reputation after magically 'robbed' a Parisian bank and 'poured' the stolen dollars all over the audiences at their show at MGM Las Vegas. On the other hand, an FBI Agent, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) suddenly found himself in the middle of the magic heist, chasing the Robin Hood-like magicians with the help of a beautiful french Interpol Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent), while trying really hard to understand whatever stunts the gang pulled off.

I was intrigued and highly entertained throughout the entire 115 minutes runtime. The first 20 minutes, we were introduced to the 4-key-magicians while they were performing their talent and it was impressive. It was a great move to make the audience to be in Rhodes's shoes; I was really enjoying the chasing events. It was amusing to try to figure out who's tricking who, what's going on, what's the real reason behind all of that stunts in Vegas, New Orleans and New York. The brain-twisting question of "How did they do it?" simply tagged along everywhere we turn our eyes on. The tricks and surprises were unimaginable and unspokable, especially coupled with the spectacular effects and inevitably CGI. I mean, who in their sane mind didn't enjoy the stylish shows with laserlights, deceiving depth-ception mind-tricks and a suave act of the all-black outfitted magicians? The deceptive and easily-fooled-by screenplay from trio Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt was engaging, topped with Leterrier's majestic presentation throughout the whole story. Not to mention the thrilling action presented in the heartstopping car chasing and apartment riot; top notch. Watching this movie was like watching Ocean Eleven's heist with a spark of The Illusionist's magic; a perfect combination.

I wrote quite a compliment above there, but here comes the truth. I feel like the story was rather shallow, lack of solidity, a little bit forced and predictable and sometimes didn't make any sense. The plot was indeed enganging, but I was missing something. I was quite captivated by the on-screen chemistry between the cast, but somehow the Four Horsemen just missing it; it was like they were there for the show, not the whole back-sided motives they had. And then there's the grand twist and the epic finale. I was feeling a little bit cheated by the ending; it sure was one hell of a twist, but it felt empty because we didn't get any chance to hypothethically discover it ourselves. I mean, where's the fun in that? Everything was so right until the magic ends on the finish line.

Mark Ruffalo was (inevitably) the star of the show. He proudly concealed his real identity by acting so confused and driven the whole time and it worked. He was able to build the pace everyone demanded on him and the charm everyone was rooting for. Morgan Freeman also delivered quite splendid performance; I love the way he broke all the tricks with pride and dignity and still seemed subtle and smart at the same time. The Four Horsemen were magnificent; it was easy to root for them, waiting their every brilliant moves. They added originality and personality to the characters they played, with some pride and snobbery. Now, what I don't understand is Melanie Laurent's character; what was in it for Alma? She contributed almost nothing and if she was there to be an eye-candy, Isla Fisher should have been enough. So, what was the purpose of adding a lack-of-chemistry romantic partnership with non-believable story between Ruffalo and Laurent?

Overall, Now You See Me was enganging and quite a sight for sore eyes and it wasn't hard to be captivated by the flashy performances and twisted schemes presented in the movie. But, I must warn you to look closely, as Atlas had warned you, because the less you see, the better the movie.

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