2013-06-06

Now You See Me – Magically Entertaining?

by Yo Snyder

A note to reader, I was really looking forward to this movie
as I love magic and really thought the previews looked intriguing.  That is to say, I had high hopes of a very entertaining
movie for date night and I was not let down. 
The movie opens with a magic trick in which you the audience get to
participate, it’s a common trick that you may have seen, but it is still a
great hook to pull the viewer into the movie. 
Performing the trick is the fast talking J. Daniel Atlas played by Jesse
Eisenberg.  A part written for an actor
like Jesse as he plays the controlling head strong magician in our team of four
aptly called the Four Horseman.  We are
briefly introduced to each of our magicians and get a feel for what type of
magic each brings to the team in the first few scenes.  We have the mentalist, sleight of hand
magician, all-around magician, and of course the pretty lady who worked for our
all-around magician before striking out on her own.  Sounds like a fairly interesting team to
build but what is the common bond that brought them together and why are they
doing these grand magic tricks that turn out to be major heists?  We see what brings each of them together is
an invitation from a mystery guest who we are introduced to in the final scene
but to figure out the mystery takes picking up on subtle hints dropped
throughout the magic shows and other scenes.

Now You See Me is
a very fun movie, one where you will enjoy trying to figure out who is the
mastermind and why is our team working together.  Each of actors play their roles well, from
the sleazy mentalist to the control freak magician.  We learn that each magician brings not only a
special skill to the magic show but the heists as well.  Another actor that makes his way into the
picture is Morgan Freeman playing Thaddeus Bradley, magician turn magic trick
debunker.  Of course, he is hated by all
magicians as he reveals their tricks. 
Thaddeus wanders through our movie working for the police and trying
figure out how the Four Horseman are pulling off their heists.  I don’t think Freeman had as much material to
go with in this movie as some of his others but he plays his part well.  Another great actor that makes an appearance
is Michael Caine playing Arthur Tressler, wealthy benefactor of the Four
Horseman who helps them create their show. 
Of course, appearances are not always what they seem and we find out
Tressler may not be the great benefactor he appears.

As for content, As You
See Me follows
a common Hollywood trend of having us root for the bad guys
because they are sticking it to the man. 
We root our Four Horseman on as they steal and perform magic to give the
money to those who deserve it, overlooking the fact we are cheering for good
guys being bad and doing bad things. 
Aside from cheering the bad guy on, this movie was surprisingly
restrained for its PG-13 rating.  The
rating clearly reflects the subject matter and perhaps one brief scene where
magic is used to entice a women towards intimacy but that scene is cut short as
soon as our female gets down to her skivvies.  There are a few curse words, but again, compared to many movies out this
one is tame by comparison. 

The movie does present a very interesting question for
consideration, does the end justify the means? 
It is the classic Robin Hood dilemma, does stealing from the rich to
give to the poor justify the sin?  Are
there situations where a Christian can look at the result and say the sin was
justified?  Clearly Hollywood thinks this
is the formula with a resounding yes, but scripture teaches otherwise.  In fact, with this formula we may well find
ourselves ignoring Paul’s famous response to the question, should we sin more
so that grace abounds more.

While the conclusion of the movie does a nice job of
revealing our mastermind and why the team was formed it does leave one issue
lingering that perhaps was best left out of the movie, the concept of an
ancient magical society that has existed through the ages.  As our team continues their magical heists,
we are introduced to what may be one reason for their involvement, to gain
access to this magical society but in the end, this sub plot is not explored
very well and was not concluded in a way that satisfied this reviewer.  Overall, the movie delivers a very
entertaining 2 hours, and will be a movie I catch on blu-ray to see what subtle
hints I may have missed during my first viewing.

Score 5 of 7: Had
they resolved the magical society question in a more satisfying manner, I would
be inclined to give it 6 stars.