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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Now You See Me review: popcorn with glitter on top

Now You See Me green light Jesse Eisenberg Dave Franco Isla Fisher Woody Harrelson

Most of it makes no sense at all, but who cares? This is cheerful ridiculousness pulled off with panache.
I’m “biast” (pro): the trailer looked good; love the cast

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It makes almost no sense even as it is unspooling before your eyes, and it completely falls apart once you start to think about, but none of that matters: as soon as it ends, you will want to watch it again immediately to see if you can figure out just where the sleight-of-movie fooled you into looking somewhere other than where the real story was happening. To call Now You See MeOcean’s Eleven with magic” is overselling it — it’s nowhere near as smart and snappy as Soderbergh’s flick of pure joy — but that’s clearly what the aim was here: Four street magicians (Woody Harrelson [Seven Psychopaths], Jesse Eisenberg [Rio], Isla Fisher [Rise of the Guardians], and Dave Franco [Warm Bodies]) are brought together by an unknown benefactor to pull off a series of spectacular heists disguised as glitzy Vegas-style magic shows. Why was magic debunker Morgan Freeman [Oblivion] on their case even before their first heist? This is one of the unsolved mysteries (unless there’s a clue I missed — gotta go for that second viewing!). Trying to solve the mystery of how the magicians are actually managing to really steal millions is FBI agent Mark Ruffalo [The Avengers], who is thwarted at every step, as we knew he would be: there’s lot of snark about magicians having to be the smartest guy in the room and always being two steps ahead of the audience. Magic is “targeted deception,” we are informed. And so are movies. Now You See Me targeted me just right, with a fresh breeziness and a cast that is supremely fun to watch; Eisenberg and Ruffalo are particularly good, and their one big scene together is electric. I didn’t care that, in the end, it turned out to be maybe trying too hard to trick me, because I had a lot of fun along the way.

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Now You See Me (2013)
US/Can release: May 31 2013
UK/Ire release: Jul 03 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated A for strong extended abraca-what-now?
MPAA: rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content
BBFC: rated 12A (contains moderate sex references, violence, threat and strong language)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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