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Movie Review: “Now You See Me”

May 302013
 
 By , May 30, 2013

Now You See Me

“Now You See Me” — a film review by Gary Chew

One could say that Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson are together again on the big screen in another 2013 summer movie; this one called, “Now You See Me.” You’ll remember Jesse and Woody in the cast of one of my favorite really nutty films called, “Zombieland” (2009). It also boasted an early visage of Emma Stone, and contained one of the greatest lines in the history of cinematic monologues, as uttered by Harrelson, “Where’s the freakin’ Twinkes (?)” … or something similar to that interrogative.

Now You See Me

Isla Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco in “Now You See Me.”

Harrelson doesn’t get anything quite so profound to say in “Now You See Me,” but Eisenberg is up to his usual “Social Network” schtick of being the smartest freakin’ actor in the frame. No one does “arrogant” better than Jesse.

French director Louis Leterrier has curiously combined summer movie genres here … a sort of quartet of superhero magicians who are extremely cagey about how they do amazing Robin Hood magic tricks to re-distribute some of the wealth of Kochian-like businessmen … all of it to relieve the congestion of big bucks that principally circulate (if they move at all) in the upper reaches of high finance.

With the script employing such an altruistic bent, that makes it okay for this quartet of masterminded tricksters to be more arrogant that they need be, at least for me.

Besides Jesse and Woody, there are Isla Fisher (“The Wedding Crashers”) and Dave Franco (“21 Jump Street”) for rounding out this slight-of-hand squad calling itself “The Four Horseman.”

Now You See Me

Morgan Freeman.

Flimsily, cops are needed to address the heists the foursome pulls. That would be a good role for Mark Ruffalo as a hardheaded plainclothesman who won’t give up on bringing the quartet to justice. And so … Ruffalo is. And, since the first amazing magic big money heist occurs during a performance of illusion in Vegas and the hard cash goes missing from a Paris bank, Interpol comes to the aid of Ruffalo and his platoon of coppers to catch more than just one thief.

Quietly, behind the machinations of how all this magic goes down, are two seemingly sinister characters; one the biz guy, played by the great Michael Caine in a not too well flushed-out role, and a veteran illusionist who is good at debunking the tricks of competitors. That part would be played by the staunch and venerable Morgan Freeman.

Such a cast, if you add Mélanie Laurent (“Inglorious Basterds;” “Beginners”). Mélanie is the classy eye candy agent — come stateside — to assist the marginally foolish detective Ruffalo does.

Now You See Me

Mark Ruffalo and Michael Kelly.

Leterrier has put his action-packed project on steroids. There’s hardly a down moment except for some boy-girl talk between Ruffalo and Laurent for a little pace change. But mostly, watch out for a floor-boarded film that uses vintage French camera busyness I first saw from Claude Lelouche in “A Man and a Woman,” which came out so long ago, I’m uncomfortable mentioning its year of release.

The dialogue in “Now You See Me” takes a swipe at living, retired politicians by the name of Cheney and Rumsfeld, but barrels apolitically ahead in large part endorsing societal gullibility, while making ever-quickening closure on the “Big Silly,” and becoming somewhat “hum-drummy.” In fact, the only thing not surprising about this movie is that it doesn’t stop surprising. The twists number more than that of your average large-sized pretzel — so many twists in fact that “Now You See Me” makes being clever … boring.

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Gary Chew was a classical music host, programmer and producer on Capital Public Radio’s KXPR 88.9FM, Sacramento for 18 years. He retired in January 2007. Read more about Gary's long and storied career here.
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