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Janna is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. Born and raised in a small Ontario town, she made her move to Toronto for university and immediately fell in love with the excitement and pace of the big city. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University, specializing in editing and screenwriting. She currently works as an assistant editor for a television production company. Janna loves stories told in all mediums, especially film, and takes herself to the movies as much as she possibly can. She can generally be found taking a Zumba class, exploring some of Toronto’s lesser-known gems, or relaxing with her fluffy feline roommate.

The Closer You Look: “Now You See Me”

The world has always had its best and brightest. Harry Houdini. David Copperfield. Siegfried and Roy. Penn & Teller. David Blaine. Criss Angel. And now… The Four Horsemen.

In movie-world, that is.

Now You See Me is a summer blockbuster about four magicians who team up to play Robin Hood – they steal from the rich and give to the poor, in the hopes of gaining acceptance to a secret magician’s society called “The Eye”. They perform three giant magic shows in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and New York, with the FBI and Interpol hot on their heels to try and nab them for their crimes. With the Horsemen and the FBI both racing towards their ultimate goals, the question arises – is there a Fifth Horseman, helping out behind the scenes? And if so… who is it?

Credit Summit Entertainment LLC

The movie is filled with action sequences, clever magic tricks, and fast dialogue. It’s beautifully shot – some of the crane shots of the various cities the Horsemen visit are stunning. It’s a blockbuster in every sense of the word – big cast, big action, big story. It’s definitely perfect for summertime.

The cast of Now You See Me is star-studded, and there isn’t a weak link in the place. The Four Horsemen are Jesse Eisenberg, a sleight of hand showman; Woody Harrelson, a mentalist; Isla Fisher, an escape artist; and Dave Franco, a pickpocket. Harrelson’s Merritt gets the most laughs in the film, which is no surprise – the man knows how to deliver a quip. Now You See Me is the second film to team up Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, and it’s a testament to them both that their character dynamic here is nothing like their dynamic in their previous film, Zombieland. There’s no sign of Eisenberg’s well-known awkwardness– he pulls off the confident Atlas as if it’s effortless, and he makes a great foil to Fisher’s charismatic Henley. And Franco, by and large considered the most green of the group, holds his own as Jack Wilder beautifully in big action scenes. The four have fantastic chemistry – every time the story shifted and the focus wasn’t on them, I wished it was. They banter and trade barbs, and despite the film not taking time to explore much character growth for the four, the actors immediately give the audience a sense of who these people are and where they came from. If the studio decided to make a sequel that focused solely on the Four Horseman, I’d be buying a ticket immediately.

Credit Summit Entertainment LLC

Mark Ruffalo plays the FBI agent in charge of tracking down the Horsemen alongside an Interpol agent played by Mélanie Laurent. Both are, as always, great in their roles, despite their unnecessary romance shoehorned in at seemingly the last minute. Laurent’s Alma Dray in particular is a breath of fresh air, while Ruffalo skillfully brings out Dylan Rhodes’ inner conflicts. Rounding out the cast is Morgan Freeman as a straight-to-DVD magic debunker and Michael Caine as the Horsemen’s wealthy benefactor. Both actors seem to be genuinely having fun with their roles, and they are great additions to an otherwise relatively young cast.

While there’s plenty of movie magic present in Now You See Me, there are also lots of tricks that could theoretically be performed in real life. Reports have it that magician David Kwong was on set as the magic consultant for the film, and while many of the tricks would be a logistical nightmare to pull off, the movie makes them work. That, I suspect, is a testament to David Kwong’s teaching abilities and the confidence he and director Louis Leterrier surely instilled in the actors. The bits of debunking the film did were a great idea – they let the audience in on the joke a little, so to speak, and brought them more fully into the story.

Alas, every rose has its thorn.

Credit Summit Entertainment LLC

The film’s main problem lies in the script – or, more specifically, the resolution. The first two acts move along at a steady, engaging pace – you buy the Horsemen, you buy their tricks, and you want to go along on this journey with them. You’re on board. You want to watch them outsmart the police, and you want to find out how they did it. It’s in the third act, the point where the stakes are high and everything needs to be brought together and resolved, that the movie flounders. While everything does technically tie together on a surface level – the story lays out the where, when, what, and why before finally revealing the who and how – the whole thing winds up feeling kind of limp. Questions are left unanswered, and while there’s surely potential for a sequel, these questions don’t feel as if they’re setting up for anything – they just feel like forgotten bits of the plot. The story feels as if it wants to be bigger and cleverer than it actually is. And upon a rewatch, not enough clues are subtly woven into the story to make the big twist ending feel rewarding a second time around.

That being said, I’ve paid to see Now You See Me more than once, because I love the cast and think they’ve done great things with the material they were given. And so even though the movie doesn’t go out with a bang the way I’d hoped, I’ve still had a lot of fun with it. And what’s more essential to a summer blockbuster than fun? In an age where sequels, trilogies, adaptations and remakes are dominating the charts, I’ll take a fun yet flawed original story any day.

Now You See Me is currently playing in theatres all across North America, and opens throughout June and July worldwide.

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