Entertaining, exciting and hollow are in-depth descriptors of one of the summer's most interesting action flicks, "Now You See Me." Released on May 31, this film, featuring a variety of developed and new actors, keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, but its illusion and magic trick heavy plot ultimately is confusing and not well explained.
The story begins with four street magicians, J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). They are brought together by a mysterious force and are given the title the Four Horsemen, as they team up to pull off impossible heists. This includes robbing a bank in "Ocean's Eleven" style during a show, and pulling a "Robin Hood" by giving the stolen money to those who had fallen on hard times.
The first magic show grabs the attention of FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol Agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) who, with the help of Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), aim to stop the Horsemen. The movie is quite a ride, but features shallow characters and a confusing plot line that fails to set up protagonists and antagonists, leaving viewers confused about how they should react to certain circumstances.
The movie's focus constantly shifts between the Four Horsemen and the mysterious, anonymous person that brought them together. The FBI's investigation of the crimes the Horsemen commit and Freeman's character's need to expose the secrets behind the Horsemen's magic. This continuous switch is enough to give the audience whiplash just trying to keep up and follow the plot line.
The movie's failure to set up clear protagonists and antagonists also distracts from the plot. There's no clear "good guy" to root for, or "bad guy" to root against and the audience spends the entire time trying to figure out who the good guy and who the bad guy is. The lack of a solid plot and solid protagonist and antagonist potentially may have lead to the lack of depth in the characters.
Without revealing the end or too many plot points, Freeman's character's mantra, "the more you think you see, the easier it will be to fool you," accurately describes how magicians fool their audiences. This was something that could have been explored much more in depth in the movie, allowing the characters to grow throughout instead of remaining stagnant for the 115 minutes of screen time. It can be hard to really get into a storyline with two-dimensional characters that don't engage in any kind of self-discovery.
All that said, "Now You See Me" is an entertaining movie, yet fails to accomplish everything a good magic film should. The combination of action, magic and an old fashioned mystery keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats, but the plot line falls short. Between sounds, score, camera angles and lighting, the audience feels like they are actually watching the Horseman's acts live and in person. It's an action-packed and high-paced movie, so there was never a dull moment. These features kept the audience engaged, because if you blink (or had to step out of the theater because of drinking too much Coca-Cola before the movie), you might miss something important.
Deep meaning behind the plot is not necessarily a requirement for a good film, but great movies have deep meaning and character growth. "Now You See Me" could have been five times better than it was if it had had a little more depth, clearer protagonists and antagonists and was just a tad more organized. Nonetheless, it's an entertaining film that's worth the trip to the theater.