The Four Horsemen create magical entertainment, the rest of the film attempts to undo it.
|Sometimes I think I should give “Now You See Me” more credit. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be; the tagline “The closer you look, the less you see” couldn’t be more accurate, and I’m pretty sure the sole point of Hollywood summer fare is to be entertaining. That it is. The Four Horsemen will take you on such a fun ride that you might not notice how terrible the script is.
Directed by: Louis Letterier
Screenplay by: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco
Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco work exceedingly well together as a rag-tag group of magicians. Their individual talents and personal egos are brought together to create magnificent illusions to entertain and please the common folk. They rob banks and rob people but it’s okay because some banks are bad and some people are bad and they give the money back to people who unfairly lost it. They’re Robin Hood and his Merry Men and FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is the Sheriff of Nottingham.
The tricks were exciting to watch with a particularly appealing style and choreography. Story-wise, the tricks build in significance, visually the tricks build in cinematic wonder. People like that but eventually you’ll get concerned that the film doesn’t have anything intelligent to say.
Dylan Rhodes was a frustrating character. He worked his way up in the FBI, takes his job seriously and snidely communicates with co-workers (whether they should be there or not). He doesn’t care about magic – doesn’t believe in it but also doesn’t have an interest in how the tricks are actually accomplished. Each step closer to the Four Horsemen and he’s pushed two steps back. The frustrating part is that we don’t want him to catch them but we do want him to get close because whenever they’re on the screen, the film is fun again.
Obviously there’s a twist, it wouldn’t be a heist movie without one, but how unfortunate that is. I wasn’t the only one hoping there wasn’t a twist which was guaranteed to undo all the fun that came before it. It would have been a much better movie if the entire thing was Harrelson, Eisenberg, Fisher and Franco performing magic for the masses without even an attempt at a story. That would have been written better.
As is, “Now You See Me” throws in a romance subplot for no good reason, destroys meaningless characters for no good reason and a twist that undoes that glorious good the Four Horsemen accomplished. The Four Horsemen did accomplish a lot. Their personal issues never got in the way, the lack of character development wasn’t a problem and they obeyed one of the golden rules of performance art: Have fun and your audience will too.