Layers and layers of plot magic

Featuring

Jesse Eisenberg as Daniel Atlas
Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney
Dave Franco as Jack Wilder
Isla Fisher as Henley Reeves
Mark Ruffalo as Dylan Rhodes
Melanie Laurent as Alma Dray
Michael Caine as Arthur Tressler
and Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley

Now You See Me tries to be clever. A bit too clever. A bit Inception. Layers and layers of plot complication. Why? It’s not even necessary. What starts out as a fantastic piece of magic trickery and a high tech, crime thriller becomes laden with an overly convoluted conspiracy.

I have to say, the cast assembled is brilliant. We have God, The Hulk, Mark Zuckerburg, Austin Powers’ dad and Borat’s wife as the lead actors and the script was tight, clever and engaging. The basic premise of the film is that four magicians on struggle street (played by Jessie Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Isla Fisher) are given an opportunity to do some really insane magic tricks as long as they follow the instructions they are shown. We promptly see the team in Las Vegas doing a trick to rob a bank in Paris and two major followups. All of them involve stealing money from someone, somewhere and it’s up to the FBI to stop them. Hottest on their tails is Mark Ruffalo’s charater, Dylan Rhodes.

The line constantly referred to in the movie is look closely, because the closer you look, the less you’ll see. This is a good line and it refers to how magic works by distracting you from where the real trick happens. This is certainly well done in the movie with the characters chasing the magicians constantly guessing who the real mastermind behind the conspiracy is. Ultimately, we know that the options could only be two of the lead characters and it’s alluded to who that might be. However, at the end the big reveal confirming that everything was according to plan shows the plot is simply too convoluted to be possible.

This is the issue with the smartest guy in the room kind of movies. The fact is that nobody can truly predict a person’s reactions or every single outcome of an action with any certainty and the more steps you add to a plan, the harder it is to to carry it out, contingency or not. In any event, the cleverness of the plot was more like the cleverness of the writers. There are a few other things that I found silly as well. Rhodes’ partner in the case – played by the lovely Melanie Laurent – is driving through New York in a mad car chase scene. However, it’s mentioned repeatedly that she’s never been outside of her desk job. So how does she know exactly what direction they’re driving in when she corrects Rhodes’ bad directions? This has nothing to do with me saying a female can’t drive or find their way around, it has everything to do with how familiar she is with New York, a place she’s supposedly never been to!

Ultimately, Now You See Me is a fun and entertaining ride. Sure, some suspension of disbelief is required as part of the required price of admission, but there are many other movies out there with a simplistic plot that are far worse in every respect. It’s definitely a much better movie than its comparatively small budget gives it credit for and does certainly entertain. Go watch it, just don’t stare at it too closely.

Rating

Good capers, slightly let down by too much plot magic. The tricks and CGI are spectacular though.

Should I watch this?

The real magic trick is that the plot made sense with so many of the plot magic devices. Nonetheless, an entertaining night out with the missus.

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