I really wanted to like this movie. I read a brief interview with the director, Louis “The Terrier” Le Terrier, in which he described his impatience with being known as an “action” director (two Transporter movies, Clash of the Titans) and his patience in awaiting his chance to direct a movie that would show his real strengths as an artist. Well this ain’t it. At least I hope not. If Now You See Me turns out to be anything like the trailer portrays it, I hope for Le Terrier’s sake—for all our sakes—that he still has better stuff ahead of him.
So, a band of rockstar stage musicians, who fancy themselves a radical political group—the magic seems only a means to their political ends; a massive act of misdirection—commit high-profile bank robberies in order to shower the cash (literally, as shown in way too many shots of paper money blizzards descending on adoring audiences) on the 99%.
Nice idea. Would make a great heist/caper movie, à la oh so many great examples: Rififi, Topkapi, Ocean’s Eleven (please add your favorites in the comments!). Unfortunately, despite his defensiveness to the contrary, from the trailer it looks like Le Terrier decided to make it more about spectacle than story. This isn’t The Killing—despite that masterpiece’s dust devil of cash that may have influenced Le Terrier’s imagery—it’s Inception Lite.
The trailer is so full of CGI impossibilities that could never be accomplished in a real world stage situation that, unless the movie ends with “it was all a dream,” it will be too preposterous to suspend disbelief. And if it does end with such a cliché, it will be too ridiculous to suspend nausea.
I realize that trailers usually collect the chewiest bits of a movie and present them in concentrated form. But if NYSM (a heads up: don’t google that, unless you want an eyeful of gay porn at NewYorkStraightMen.com) has anywhere near the level of wall-to-wall CGI that the trailer does, it will be more than immersive: it will be suffocating. This movie was clearly as green-screened as any Peter Jackson blockbuster. Between that, the dizzying camera moves—it’s shot like a Janet Jackson concert: the camera doesn’t pan, it swings, like a tetherball in a tornado—and the all-out cameo-fest (truly, the cast runneth over), NYSM looks to be a gluttony of maximalism.
A word about the cast. Both My Cocaine—sorry, Michael Caine—and Morgan Freeman? How many movies need as much manufactured gravitas as The Dark Knight(s)? One of them would’ve been sufficient for a nice taut caper flick—they both have experience in the genre (The Italian Job, Red, respectively). And what’s with the costuming? 1995 called, Morgan, it wants its porkpie hat and gypsy earrings back. And having saddled Freeman with a porkpie, the filmmakers decided once again that one wasn’t enough, and inflicted a similar cover on Woody Harrelson. (Which, Woody’s pretty much stuck in the 90s, so it doesn’t look quite as ridiculous on him as on the Voice of God.)
Speaking of voices . . . I have to come out of the closet as a Jesse Eisenberg hater. Everything he says sounds like he’s correcting his math teacher. He’s a decent enough actor, but I wish he’d take a role where he really has to learn to modulate his usual manner of staccato whining. Sorry to sound so bitter, but after my anticipation, this trailer was a bitter disappointment. With the NYSM portrayed in this trailer, Le Terrier has made no progress in securing my forgiveness for the horror that was Unleashed. One step forward, two steps back.
NOW YOU SEE ME, 2013, dir. Louis LeTerrier. 113 min, PG13. Opens nationwide May 31.