SOME MOVIE TWISTS DON’T STICK
In every summer movie season, there are massive franchises that dominate. This year is no different. Movie studios have already unleashed Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6 and more… Not too mention Man of Steel, The Wolverine and other big movies yet to arrive.
While the sequels, reboots and remakes command the majority of the attention, there are always underdogs looking to surprise audiences. It’s hard to call giant blockbusters like Pacific Rim underdogs but they ARE new movies in every sense of the word. These movies must find an audience amongst the weekly assault of studio tent poles.
Now, movies like Pacific Rim or Elysium will most likely do well because of the sheer amount of ambition shown in their trailers. What about the smaller movies like Now You See Me? They have ambition too!
As the summer approached, I was intrigued at the thought of a ‘magical’ caper. I wasn’t expecting The Prestige but I thought it looked like a potential sleeper hit. Still, even though I was looking forward to it, I felt like the film had to really deliver to stand out.
Now You See Me is like the shortest kid in class being forced into the back row of a class picture. You know they are there but you can’t see them. I’ve seen the film now and I can tell you it’s originality earns itself a place in that photo but it belongs in the back row.
Now You See Me begins with an intriguing premise and a rapidly developed mythology surrounding an ancient organization called The Eye. Believing they are being recruited into this super secret organization, 4 magicians stage a series of robberies in an effort to impress. But impress who?
That’s where the film lost me. Everything was leading to a big reveal that ultimately felt disappointing. I felt like they cheated by constantly including scenes with the sole purpose of throwing you off course. These scenes work in some cases but if the twist doesn’t stick, they seem forced. It comes across like the filmmakers were over confident in their big reveal but in the end, I think they underestimated audiences.
By the time the story morphed into a revenge tale, they seemed to completely throw the mythology out the window. The individual behind it all didn’t HAVE to come up with this overly complicated plan to succeed. The 4 magicians weren’t needed. As soon as the twist was revealed the movie ended for me and all I could see was a series of plot devices. One after another built to make you think the movie is smarter than it is. You could have removed The Eye from the film along with about 30 minutes of time they spent setting it up. None of it was really needed in the end.
I really wish they followed through with the promises they made in the first act. Instead you are forced to believe everything you see without question. If you can do that, this film has a chance to surprise you. If you can’t, you’ll see right through the illusions.
Movies like Now You See Me risk everything on the big reveal. The ones that stick become classics like The Prestige. The ones that don’t become movies like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening… It’s an admirable risk and I certainly don’t feel like I wasted my money. On the other hand, I do feel like renting this movie a few months from now would have sufficed.