Reviewed by: Jessica D. Lovett
Morgan Freeman … Thaddeus Bradley
Isla Fisher … Henley
Woody Harrelson … Merritt Osbourne
Dave Franco … Jack
Jesse Eisenberg … Michael Atlas
Mark Ruffalo … Dylan Hobbs
Michael Caine … Arthur Tressler
Mélanie Laurent … Alma Vargas
Laura Cayouette … Woman
Michael Kelly … Agent Fuller
Common … Evans
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|Director||Louis Leterrier—“The Transporter,” “Clash of the Titans”|
Kurtzman Orci Paper Products
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Sequel: “Now You See Me: The Second Act” (2016)
It is extremely hard to find something to say about this movie… Not because it was lackluster in any way, but because I hate to give anything away, if you chose to see it in theaters. “Now You See Me” is an very tantalizing film, giving you the bright lights and sparkle of a modern magic show in Las Vegas, as well as heated chases through the harsh streets of New Orleans and everything in between. Surprisingly, the theater showing I attended was a full house… hardly a seat to be found. There was an equal mix of teens, young adults, and older adults and the whole let out plenty of audibly hearty laughs throughout—experiencing the film’s quick, witty script. If you enjoy fast-paced, character-driven films with unexpected twists until the last few frames, this will probably be an enjoyable film for you.
Acting heavyweights Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine go head-to-head, Freeman playing the role of Thaddeus Bradley, a famed magician debunker and Caine as Arthur Tressler, businessman and magic show sponsor. Mysteriously, successful street magicians from extremely different backgrounds Merritt Osbourne (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) are brought together by an outside force to form the magician super-team named the Four Horsemen.
Becoming wildly successful with their daring shows and charismatic public personas, the team rises to public acclaim… but this all comes with a price. Mark Ruffalo, playing Agent Dylan Rhodes with the perfect blend of grit and heart, dedicates all his energies to uncovering the hidden plot behind the increasingly audacious and law-skirting magic tricks of the Four Horsemen. Interpol Agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent), assigned to the case with Rhodes, initially throws a wrench in the machine, but then becomes vital to solving the case. With lush cinematography, this movie succeeds in making the audience sympathetic with all the rich characters, blurring the lines between the good guys and bad guys.
The film explores complex ideas, such as whether or not it is morally comprehensible to play Robin Hood with someone else’s money, is revenge ever righteous, and what is the difference between dishonesty and planned illusion for entertainment purposes. The movie also shows how depressingly easy it is to persuade a crowd to give in to mob mentality and cheer on criminal activity, if there they are given the gift of eye candy and emotional thrills. It deeply saddened me that there were some small children in the movie with their parents, as this is definitely not a child-friendly movie… and, personally I would view the theatrical trailers before the film (“World War Z,” being one of them) to be more jading to a small child’s mind than the actual movie itself, though it had its share of questionable content.
Refreshingly, there were absolutely no “love” scenes, though there is one brief instance of a woman in full-coverage bra and panties unsuccessfully trying to seduce one of the protagonists. There is also an inferred topless image of woman at a parade, though she is mostly censored by hands in front of her. There are a few low cut or sheer blouses, but nothing extreme. There are three brief bar scenes, but drinking is not portrayed in a positive light. There is also some sexual innuendo—but, again, nothing extreme—and portrayals of criminal heists as being lauded by the general public in the film, not to mention some isolated clapping from the movie audience at the colorful, elaborate heists. No random explosions for the sake of being explosions, one or two fight scenes are not bloody and have lightened elements to them, such as a character throwing magic cards at the FBI agents to escape them. Two main magic tricks seem to graphically insuate that the characters have died, but all is an illusion.
It is slightly inferred by the film that some elements of magic may not be purely illusory, but occult themes are not blatantly pursued, as all tricks, except the very ending of the film itself are debunked for the audience’s amusement. There are approximately a dozen uses of PG-13 level profanity, including some blasphemous uses of God’s or Jesus’ names. Though I hesitate to put a Christian stamp of approval on a film with any cursing or morality issues, at all, my pretty prudish conscience is honestly not in pain over watching this particular film, and, all in all, it is an exciting, well-constructed film.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate to heavy—OMG (4), “G*d-d*mn” (3), “Jesus Christ” (1), “Oh G*d” (1), “hell” (8), damn (3), s-words (over a dozen), *ss (9), and a few other vulgarities / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.