Thursday, May 23, 2013

Now You See Me review

While I can't say that this summer has been a total bust, I can't say that I've found much fresh content in the films that have been offered. I liked Iron Man 3 quite a bit and also enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness, but I didn't like The Great Gatsby at all. So when I saw Now You See Me at a preview screening last night, I breathed a big sigh of relief. The summer has saved itself. Now You See Me is a well-executed, tense, thrilling, funny, twisty movie. It's everything I wanted from it. In addition, it's the rare movie that gets better as it goes along and doesn't drop off at the end. In addition, there are so many twists and turns that it keeps the plot fresh and inventive including one final twist that is the best since "Wait, Bruce Willis is dead!". It had my saying "WHAT!!!!" out loud. The movie just kept getting better. Now You See Me is a great summer movie.

I can't say much about the plot without spoiling but I will say that the plot revolves around a team of magicians named The Four Horseman (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco) who catch the attention of the FBI by pulling off an amazing bank robbery at one of their magic shows. The FBI assigns special agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol shows up with an agent of their own (Melanie Laurent). They track the case as they follow the Horseman as they pull off more robberies while receiving the advice of magic guru Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman).

That may seem like a simple plot that has been done over and over but with the talent of the spectacular cast, Now You See Me feels fresh and exciting throughout. The script by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt keeps the right mixture of humor, action and suspense throughout. And they make it feel like it's a high-stakes film. I was always engaged because it was suspenseful and you weren't always sure what's going on. Virtually the only knock I had on this film was the fact that the screenplay gets a bit messy at times. It reaches for the Inception level of explaining a complex plot perfectly but it ends up a bit rushed. That is a huge nitpick though and I think that you get so wrapped up in the plot of this movie that any holes are easy to overlook.

Let's talk about the cast. They're fantastic. I can't point out one performance because this was really an ensemble performance. The Horseman have a great chemistry together and Woody Harrelson has some pretty hilarious bits in his role. Ruffalo and Laurent also have some nice chemistry on screen and their relationship feels pretty real throughout. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are, well, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. Although the performances are great, they do feel like its just the actors doing what they do in all films at times.

However, despite all my quibbles and the scorching heat of my jam-packed advance screening, along with a cold I'm fighting off, I enjoyed the heck out of this film. It's right in my wheelhouse. A high-stakes, action-packed, witty caper. I love these types of movies and Now You See Me is incredibly smart, which makes it a cut above the rest.

The best thing about this film is how it consistently gets better as you watch it. I typically grade films in my head as I go along and this movie started at a B. Then it went up to a B+. Then it went up to an A- and stayed there. The pacing just got faster, the stakes got higher, and the twists got twistier. Now You See Me sends you on a wonderful thrill ride that doesn't quit until the end. I checked my watch a couple times out of habit and I was shocked to see how fast the film was moving. It moves at a rollicking pace and has quite the fun.

My biggest concern was how it was going to end. And while I won't spoil anything, I'll say that it ends in perfect fashion. They wrap up some of the loose ends while leaving the rest to the imagination. In a lesser film, that would have bothered me. But in a film that has so much action packed, high stakes entertainment as Now You See Me, it was a good thing.

So, despite a few nitpicks and some slow scenes, Now You See Me is an entertaining thrill ride from start to finish. I really think that this film will be a hit once people see it. It's immensely entertaining and from the first scenes introducing the magicians to the final twist, this film is great. I truly recommend that you go see it. I guess there is hope for Summer 2013 after all. Now You See Me opens May 31. See it opening day and AVOID SPOILERS.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A-                                             (8/10)

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