Now You See Me – Review (Spoiler Free)

Now You See MeBest enjoyed by switching your brain off and enjoying the spectacle.

This film about magicians turned criminals is often silly, it’s characters are underwritten and it defies logic with surprising willingness – and yet I had a good time with it. The action is entertaining, the visuals eye catching, and although the plot’s twist and turns leave a fair amount to be desired, the strong cast carries you comfortably along the ride.

My major gripe with this film is that it handles it’s use of magic rather frustratingly. It tries to straddle the line between presenting tricks that are large in scale and scope, whilst also offering rational explanations for them, and it’s just not up to the task. There’s no intricacy here, and it would be easier to swallow certain moments if it was revealed that the magicians could indeed perform genuine magic. One only has to look at The Prestige, a film I’m not even a huge admirer of, in order to see how much more deftly magic can be handled.

All of the cast though give solid performances, which don’t stand amongst the best of their work, but which nicely pull the plot along. Predictably Jesse Eisenberg is good fun here, and Zombieland fans get to see him reunite with Woody Harrelson. Also Dave Franco has made me want to see more of him and less of his brother (James Franco) in the next year or two. However it would be nice if Isla Fisher had been given a better character to work with from the start, and the attempts at romance between two characters is just painfully uncharismatic and unnecessary.

Now You See Me - Franco

I love the idea of magicians pulling off a heist – there’s a lot of potential there for a really great film. Now You See Me could have joined Inception as an unusual and inventive heist movie with a strong cast, impressive visuals, and a great take on a well trodden genre, but instead it struggles to provide any complexity. It simply gives us a fun experience that’s not meant to be thought about after the credits have rolled.

Summary:

What is the film’s greatest strength?
It’s spectacle.

Its greatest weakness?
It’s got to be the lack of character development.

Would I see it again?
No. I enjoyed it for what it was, but I suspect that it may not hold up to repeated viewings.

Disagree? Agree? Let me know by tapping out a comment below!

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37 comments

  1. Completely agree. Not a good movie, this.

    1. Yeah, but it’s not terrible either like many said it was. Entertaining but far from great.

      1. Agreed. I had a similar experience with it.

  2. Nice review Rumsey. The movie had me going for quite awhile, and then that final twist showed up and absolutely ticked me off. Just didn’t make a single lick of sense, no matter which way you put it.

    1. Thanks! Man that was annoying wasn’t it. I didn’t hate the movie, although in many respects perhaps I should have, the cast helped me enjoy it.

  3. Totally agree. Fun enough, but not much more than that. Nice review, sir!

    1. Why thank you – glad to hear that you agree!

  4. Glad you liked this one. Even if the film is very flawed, I had so much fun!

    1. It’s good to hear that we’re on the same page!

  5. I had a lot of fun with this movie and the cast was top notch. They definitely could have done more character development, though. Great review!

    1. Thanks! I was surprised by how much fun I had with it considering the size of its flaws.

  6. This was a film that I just missed out on. I wasn’t enthusiastic about seeing it anyway, as most of the film critics I read seemed to share your opinion that it’s just flashy, shallow, disposable entertainment. I can’t think of many films about magicians right now (excluding The Prestige, of course), but there’s probably quite a few. There must be at least one crappy old B-movie about a killer magician!

    1. Yeah I’m sure that there are some more out there, but they are fairly thin on the ground!
      Haha I’m sure that there a several such movies!

  7. The premise sounds interesting, the idea of a heist movie with a magic twist. I’ll probably hold off on catching up on this one though, there’ so many other movies more worthwhile from what I gather. Nice to know I’m not the only one who’s not a big admirer of The Prestige, so many people rave about it.

    1. Yeah that sounds like a pretty solid plan to me!
      It is good to know that there is someone else, that one receives so much praise and yet Nolan has several better films out there.

  8. Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of this one. Like you say the character development was pretty lacking. And I was really bothered by the use of CGI in a film about magic.

    1. Yeah the CGI use wasn’t great, I forgot to mention that in the review but it bothered me as well. I would have much preferred smaller scale tricks that were believable than the CGI spectacles we were given.

      1. That was exactly my issue. They should have just done smaller scale tricks that did not require CGI than the approach they took.

  9. I think its greatest weakness was the stupid twist at the end which made everything you just watched seem stupid and irrelevant.

    You did not like The Prestige? Thought that one was awesome. What did you not like about it?

    1. Damn that twist was so unnecessary wasn’t it!

      I don’t dislike it, but I don’t think it’s awesome like you and so many others! I think it’s the cloning Tesla machine that does it for me. The story of two warring magicians who reach to extremes to try and best each other is great, but I wish it stayed grounded in reality.

  10. I didn’t just switch my brain off, I switched the whole film off after 20mins. Really didn’t like where it was headed at all.

    1. Haha, that may have been a wise decision! It’s not awful, but it certainly falls very far from its potential.

  11. Still want to check this out. Great review James!

    1. Thanks Zoë! If you approach it as a bit of forgettable fun then you should enjoy it, just don’t go in expecting anything particularly clever or memorable!

      1. Hmmmm, I will truly bear that in mind James!

        1. Haha, good to know!

  12. This was better than I thought it’d be based on reviews, but yeah it was nothing out of the ordinary.

    1. It’s a shame isn’t it – I thought that it had real potential.

  13. Great review! Haven’t seen this one yet but like the concept. Shame it doesn’t live up to it’s potential.

    1. Thank you! Yeah it’s a disappointment, but if you want something you can munch popcorn too and not think about then you can do worse.

  14. Thot this was one of the better movies I saw this year.
    I see there is an Extended version out already. Have to give it a boo.
    When I have the time.

    1. Oh really I didn’t know that, I wonder what it would really add to the film…

  15. Victor De Leon · · Reply

    I’m looking forward to this one. Haven’t gotten around to it yet. Good review!

    1. Stick it on and don’t think about it much and you should enjoy it, thanks!

  16. Mr. Rumsey – you’re right. Extended versions often add nothing – or are completely unnecessary. Most are just to make some more money and it’s actually common for some film makers to deliberately hold some footage back so that they can put it on the DVD as a marketing ploy. Computer game makers do the same thing – calling it DLC.

    1. Yeah video game DLCs annoy me far more than film makers. As much as there is a common practice, as you say, to hold back footage for marketing, there is also a legitimate angle to it as well. Length of film in cinemas, wanting to create a tight film and then giving fans the chance to see more etc. With video games that isn’t the case, it’s purely done in order to make money out of us.

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