It’s time to watch a film about magic! This is a bit of a team film as several magicians who are the best at what they do are grouped together to perform tricks that have never even been attempted before. Obviously the stakes are high, but these guys are ready. Unfortunately, there are dozens of plot holes and plot twists that don’t make sense. The writers took all of the easy routes during the film when it comes to explanations and it ultimately makes you feel like there was not a lot of effort put into this title.
As for the plot, it revolves around this team. The magicians find a magical orb at a mysterious apartment that they were all sent too via playing cards. These cards were expertly handed to them as they were in places that nobody should have been able to get to all that easily. The challenge isn’t told to the viewers until the very end, but it involves stealing a lot of things and crushing the lives of several people. What’s in it for the magicians? The thrills and the chance to join a mysterious magic group of legend.
That’s their side of the story. On the other side, we have Dylan, an FBI agent whose mission is to capture these guys. They may not have been a threat at first, but they rob all of the money from a large bank’s vault and then they steal millions from their boss. Their last trick is set to take place in New York so Dylan must use every tool at his disposal to win. To his dismay, he has a partner for this case from Interpol and he fears that she (Alma) will slow him down. His ego is certainly fairly strong.
At the very least, this isn’t the kind of film that I found dull in the least. The pacing is very quick and most of the dialogue is fairly snappy and entertaining. There is a lot of banter to be found here. Given the nature of the film, there are also a few chase scenes like the ones on the ground and a car chase as well. We even get a big hand to hand fight scene between Dylan and one of the magicians where the guy is pulling off things that shouldn’t even be possible thanks to his magical skills. It’s the kind of action that you want to see in a summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, this gets held down by many other elements.
For starters, Danny is one of the magicians and he’s pretty unlikable. His first scene is him having a one night stand with someone before shooing her away because he has to get to a meeting. Not a great introduction. His overconfidence is good as he messes with the cops a lot, but it’s just irritating to see the cops simply have to back off. They know that this guy is a burglar and he’s also taunting them so that’s reason enough to keep him locked up for questioning for a while.
Another one of the magicians is Henley and her thing is that she’s good at escaping impossible situations like being chained up in an underwater tank and then appearing in the audience. Naturally, she can’t resist quickly stripping before jumping into the tank. There’s a really unnecessary romance plot between her and Danny that goes nowhere and probably never will since her character is not going to be in the sequel.
Merritt is next on the list and what if I said that he was the worst member? He is good at hypnosis to the point where the film has to sacrifice even more realism. Just by talking to you for an instant, he can get you to do whatever you want. He uses his tricks of mind reading as well to humiliate everyone all the time. Despite this, he doesn’t realize that he’s the desperate one as he even asks Henley if she wants to have a one night stand. Whenever he’s on screen, you can get ready to face palm. Why is this black mailing individual one of the four horsemen? (The name of the magic group)
Finally, there’s Jack. He’s the youngest member and he’s great at slight of hand. He can pick any lock and he can magically use the handcuffs that are on him to cuff someone else in the blink of an eye. It’s all really a big stretch of disbelief if you ask me. He’s the best member of the group, but it’s practically automatic. He has no huge faults that hurt the character and he takes all of the big risks while the other members try to get somewhere safe while they still can. They’re not exactly dependable as you can see.
Luckily, Dylan’s a likable protagonist. He always looks and sounds tired, but it gives the impression that he has been doing this for a while and that he has experience on his side. He knows how to talk tough to all of the villains even if he ultimately ends up getting humiliated a lot of the time. He’s the main reason why the film is a blast. His only failing is that he tends to blame everything on Alma and yells at her for basically no reason whenever he’s stressed. Alma should have just left to work on her own after a while because I know I wouldn’t bother with someone like that. Especially when he has to keep on asking her for help since he doesn’t believe in magic.
The main fault with this film aside from the unlikable magicians is the large amount of plot holes. Honestly, you could write a whole 1000+ word review on just that aspect. In the end, we are led to believe that the magic is basically real to an extent. There’s no other way to justify how the magicians pull off so many feats. They hypnotize someone to rob a bank, they can fight off professional FBI agents with their tricks, They can leap from speeding cars and have time to exchange a dummy in their place that looks incredibly realistic to the point where nobody can tell that it’s a fake even at close contact, They can make completely real looking illusions, They phone in the dates for their robberies and where they are taking place, but the police don’t want to close the building or cancel the show, etc. They are able to take down the FBI and Interpol and the citizens of New York are actually cheering them on. Are you kidding me? It’s one thing for Americans to cheer someone illegally walking on a tight rope. It’s another to cheer about someone robbing people (Robbing a bank is essentially robbing a lot of citizens as well) and making lives miserable. I just don’t see that happening in real life to be honest.
There’s also a big plot twist about who the real leader of the 4 Horsemen is and it makes no sense in context to the rest of the film. There’s no way that the film can justify this in a way that will satisfy me. Sorry guys, I’m just not buying it. It turns the film upside down, but not in a good way. The only good part about this was that the tough talking Thaddeus was finally taken down a notch. He made for a good rival to the FBI in following the magicians and I liked his overconfidence, but he had to go at some point. His back and forth with the other old guy was one of the best scenes in the film though. Both of them are supremely confident and have a lot of resources, but only one could come out on top…or maybe none of them. The way that it all happens was pretty interesting and the scene where Thaddeus loses is funny. See, if you ignore the lack of realism, the final twist is hilarious. If you think back to all of the other scenes in the film while already knowing the twist…..well you just have to feel bad for the FBI. This looks pretty shameful on them.
Overall, Now You See Me is a film that should and could have been great. Becoming a good film is a three step process after all. 1. A film should be enjoyable. Check! 2. A film should have likable characters. X. 3. A film should minimize negatives:Extreme Violence, Sensuality, Language, Terrible Dialogue, Bad Pacing, etc. X. So, this film simply couldn’t follow those 3 rules. As it is, I wouldn’t really recommend it. It can make for a decent way to spend your evening, but there are simply better ways to do that. The sequel should be intriguing since the magicians are on the run. I’m looking forward to that and it looks like the big team up’s going to happen. The interesting thing is, I don’t think you would even realize the end twist just judging from the trailer of the second film so that was actually handled pretty well. On a final note, remember that you should never tell a group of teenagers all of the right passwords to your super complicated Swiss bank account which holds millions of dollars even if they claim that they only want to know it for a game they’re playing…that scene was just sad. Dylan’s boss in the FBI had the best line in the film, which basically encapsulates your opinion of the FBI’s handling of the case. “The level of incompetence displayed on the case, that’s a magic trick in and of itself. Abracadabra, I’m takin’ over…”
I reeeeeally loved that line, even if the character proceeded to get embarrassed in the very next minute. When watching the film, that’ll be your reaction as you can probably think of better ways to handle the situation.