Film review: ‘Now You See Me’ is incredibly, awesomely stupid

Jesse Eisenberg just needed the money, in "Now You See Me." Credit: Summit Entertainment
Jesse Eisenberg did it all for the Benjamins in “Now You See Me.”
Credit: Summit Entertainment

‘Now You See Me’
Director: Louis Leterrier
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo
Rating: PG-13
2 (out of 5) Globes

A friend once maintained that it was wrong to seek a simple, rational understanding from Andrei Tarkovsky’s “The Mirror.” The same could be said about “Now You See Me.” The difference is that “The Mirror” is a mysterious, confounding art-film masterpiece, while “Now You See Me” is a silly magician thriller that plays like the ravings of a madman. A lot of dim entertainments make little rational sense, but there’s usually at least a toe in reality, or its own peculiar set of rules. This has neither. It exists in a world without sense, and is even more confusing than the fact that it sports a hilariously overqualified cast.

Actually, that can be explained away: Bills gotta be paid, even if you’re Jesse Eisenberg. The onetime Mark Zuckerberg plays one of four hotshot New York street magicians — alongside Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco — who are tasked by a mystery man in a hoodie with an enigmatic scheme. Their task is simple: become world famous magicians who, while performing in the largest auditorium in Vegas, somehow steal money from a bank in France and spread the wealth among their packed house. Why? It, like most things in the film, never becomes clear. Enter detectives (Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent), who can’t prove they did anything wrong, as well as a James Randi skeptic type (Morgan Freeman), who tries to debunk their every trick while smirking a classically Morgan Freeman smirk.

Freeman’s character is the closest thing to a baddie, as he’s the one who thinks he can offer logical readings of what he sees. He can’t, because there is no sense to be made. Our magicians are not just tricksters and sleight-of-hand artists; they actually have real magical powers — sometimes. Sloppily introduced into the plot is a shadowy line of real magicians going back into the centuries, which our four Robin Hoods aspire to join. The actors look as lost as anyone trying to follow the plot. Poor Mark Ruffalo seems as frustrated as his character, forced to utter inane dialogue amidst inexplicable action. Amazing tricks are never adequately explained, and what pass as explanations would require more money, planning and manpower than necessary given the relatively modest end goal (which makes no sense either).

Co-writer Boaz Yakin once used the money and clout he accrued writing the bizarrely nonsensical Clint Eastwood-Charlie Sheen actioner “The Rookie” to make the excellent urban chess drama “Fresh.” Since he’s now helped make the most inspiredly stupid film from a major studio with real, talented actors since “Dreamcatcher;” may he go onto another small masterpiece.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.