Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

June 5, 2013

‘Now You See Me’ conjures conflicting opinions

Andy Stuckey, Ryan Maddux
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — New in theatres this past week was Now You See Me (PG-13), the crime thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson,  Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine.

Louis Letterier directs this all-star cast in a tale of four magicians who come together to pull off one of the greatest magic tricks / heists in history.  

Ryan: Initially I thought of Now You See Me as a decent, breezy, (mostly) entertaining film that would be a nice viewing on a spring/summer evening. But upon further evaluation, I view Now You See Me as a very mediocre movie that is certainly not as clever as it aspires to be. The cast is enjoyable but the movie collapses upon itself at the end with its big reveal.    

Andy: Now You See Me is the rare summer blockbuster that is not a sequel or part of an existing brand. For that reason alone, it seems fresh and new. While it does not do anything particularly inventive, it is a very entertaining take on the heist genre. There is always something slightly cheap about watching magic tricks performed in a movie, where the magic can be added in post-production, but Now You See Me is very self-aware of its magic, and uses it as a plot devices as well as bolstering action sequences. While this could have come across as a gimmick, it is actually largely effective.

Ryan: Clearly a movie about magic that turns into a heist film is going to have its own sleight-of-hand when it comes to its narrative, and Now You See Me fits that bill. Needless-to-say the twist at the end of the film, while initially surprising, is ultimately a preposterous development in terms of it basically nullifying the main character with regard to how the film is constructed. I just have a strong feeling that if one watches this movie again they would feel cheated by the direct manipulation of the audience with regard to the character in question and his subsequent interactions with the other characters in the movie.

Andy: One of the most impressive aspects of Now You See Me is that the cast is as effective as it is recognizable. Ruffalo continues to be impressive as a character actor who can carry a movie. Eisenberg still shows a lack of range, but has an impeccable knack for choosing roles in good movies in which he can excel. Freeman and Caine are both long respected actors who have put out some lackluster performances in the past few years, but both of them are utilized well here. Harrelson is his usual, creepy, but entertaining self. When a cast comes together to be this effective in a film that has an entertaining plot, the result is a movie that is well worth seeing in a summer full of rehashed ideas.

Final grade: B+

Ryan: As I said earlier the cast in Now You See Me is top-notch. One has the golden oldies in Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman as well as the always enjoyable Woody Harrelson’s and Mark Ruffalo’s of the world — plus, I really like the charm of French actress Melanie Laurent — she’s always terrific.

For the most part, it’s the performances that stand out in this production and that carry the film along. Regrettably the performances cannot overcome the smoke and mirrors of the film’s frantic tone and direction.  Final grade: C