Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Movie Review: NOW YOU SEE ME

Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Mélanie Laurent

Magic comes in a variety of forms each appealing to a different kind of crowd. J. Daniel Atlas (Eisenberg) is your fast-talking brainiac who performs your standard set of card tricks. Merritt McKinley (Harrelson) pulls out unsuspecting people from a crowd and gets them to divulge life secrets as a mentalist. Jack Wilder (Franco) makes his living by doing sleight of hand tricks. He may end off ripping people off and stealing their money in the process. Henley Leeves (Fisher) pulls off the death-defying stunts as an illusionist.

All four of them are targeted and are given vague instructions to meet in a secret location. The world of magicians must be small as they all know each other or know of each others reputations. When they each arrive and notice that other people got the invitation their curiosity is sparked regarding this gathering of the who's who of magicians. They enter an abandoned apartment and a hologram of blueprints starts playing. They have been brought together to form a "super group" called The Four Horsemen.

One year passes and The Four Horsemen are performing to sold out crowds as an act in Las Vegas. During one special performance, they rob a bank in Paris and the money starts falling from the rafters onto the audience. This is no simple illusion as the money appears to be real and the bank mentioned during the trick has actually been robbed. This is just Act 1 of 3 of their plan to take over corrupt businesses and shower the people they have wronged with their money. The feds led my Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) and a member from Interpol (Leaurent) are brought together to catch the Four Horseman. Rhodes brings along former magician Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman) along for the ride to explain and uncover their tricks along the way. He is the type of retired magician who makes a living off making videos exposing the tricks of the trade.

The film plays out as your standard cat and mouse chase between The Four Horsemen versus the authorities who want to bring them down. Like any good magician, they are always two steps ahead in their plan. None of the characters are all that original or new. You've got your dumb detective who gets angry every time they get away. You've got your wise old mentors, and of course you've got your hot shot "criminals" who do not believe they are doing anything wrong. None of the actors are really playing outside their comfort zones. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine have all played this types before. The film may sound conventional, but who cares.

The tagline for the film "The closer you look, the less you'll see." is frequently used throughout the movie to describe the magic and illusions being performed. It is also a decent way to describe the movie. Now You See Me is a perfectly good summer popcorn film. This is the kind of movie where you can go in, have fun, enjoy it for what it is worth, and not have to think too hard. Magic is like that. On the outside, if you watch a magic trick and the person performing it has done their job you will leave amazed and surprised. If you take it at face value, it can be a fun time in that moment. If you start to dive in and deeply dissect how the trick was done, you will get aggravated or frustrated that you wasted your time on something. This is that kind of movie. I do not think the filmmakers were going in trying to make the most artistic movie about magicians ever made. There are no hidden meanings or deep thoughts behind it. You will be severely disappointed if you are looking for high art or the mysteries of magic to be explained. If you want to see that movie, go rent Christopher Nolan's The Prestige. Don't worry, you will still get your Michael Caine fix in. This movie is meant to be taken at face value as a fun joy ride that may keep you guessing along the way.

RATING: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)

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