NOW YOU SEE ME (DVD; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films) - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 9 Old 09-04-13, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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NOW YOU SEE ME (DVD; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films)

Releasing/Participating Studio(s): Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films
Disc/Transfer Information: Region 1; 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Tested Audio Track: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher, Michael Kelly, Melanie Laurent, Common



Though most marketing materials and press junket releases would have you believe that Louis “The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans” Leterrier’s Now You See Me was really about a group of illusionists that break into people’s bank accounts and then “redistribute” the wealth to audiences at their highly energized shows, there’s really much more going on here – yet not for the better. What Leterrier has done is assemble a massive (normally good) cast for a take on the Prestige genre…that is, the mysteries surrounding magic and the questions the art form asks, but it gets so utterly confusing and thick in spots for its own good that by the time the final curtain is revealed you’re just kind of not even caring about the characters anymore. The big payoff and plot twist in the end is something you’ll never see coming – well, I didn’t, but you in fact might – and for that Leterrier deserves applause because it really makes you say “WHOAA! WHAT?! IT WAS THAT CHARACTER!?” However, this got me kind of disinterested nearly from the get-go and the film itself seems like an ego-stroking device for every one of these so-called “illusionists” or magicians out there who feel they are more than rock stars; while there’s some very talented performers on stage for this one, the project as a whole was not memorable to me and I don’t really care if I never see it again, to be honest. I won’t give away that end sequence plot twist though…it was indeed enlightening.

I must admit, I was intrigued by the trailers for Leterrier’s Now You See Me from the first teaser I saw but realized I probably wasn’t going to catch it theatrically – alas, I didn’t and so viewing it on standard DVD last night, I came to the conclusion that I was happy (as was the wife) I didn’t waste the cash to see this in theaters. It wasn’t horrible, but my wife fell asleep on it towards the end and I just didn’t get immersed in it like many magic enthusiasts probably did. The film opens by introducing us to our main players that end up coming together to form “The Four Horsemen” – Woody Harrelson’s “Merritt McKinney” character who is a self-proclaimed mentalist that, through his sessions, fools people out of their money; Jesse Eisenberg’s “J. Daniel Atlas” character, another magician of sorts and who is utterly annoying in this with his juvenile, quasi-stuttering dialogue delivery; the beautiful Isla Fisher’s “Henley Reeves” character, another magician of sorts and Dave Franco’s “Jack Wilder” character, whom we see in the opening sequence attempting to perform a magic act on a New York City barge before unsuspecting travelers in which he bends a spoon presumably with his mind…but who is also called on his phony act by one of the passengers who sees the “extra” silverware in his pocket. No matter, though, because the master thief/magician gets off the boat with the accuser’s wallet after the guy demands his money back for the trick.

Once all the opening sequence magic acts between these four conclude, they each find strange tarot-like cards that invite them to meet at a New York City apartment at a certain time and date. The four come together, following the invitation of the cards, to find the apartment door locked – however, utilizing his special techniques, Franco’s Jack Wilder manages to pick the lock and get inside (obviously staged by whomever wants to bring this group together) while the remainder of the group prod and poke amongst each other attempting to learn more about each of their “special gifts.” What this equates to is a massive ego-fest between this group, Harrelson’s Merritt McKinney character exuding the most powerful of these egos regarding himself and what he’s capable of. In this way, Now You See Me remains refreshing and kind of taut, the film managing to dip into somewhat unexplored territory what with four master magicians/illusionists coming together as a kind of “supergroup;” it’s later on that the plot becomes too thick of a mess.

Once inside the empty, broken-down apartment, the group stumble upon more clues left for them to follow, eventually leading to some kind of pyrotechnic light show display that forms what becomes the group’s new “logo” for the mission they’re about to undertake: Whomever brought them together has now created “The Four Horsemen” and has given them a mission to begin doing shows around the country as this newly formed magic supergroup. We don’t know who this individual is, why he or she has brought them to this dingy apartment in New York or how they were ultimately trained to work together on these collaborative illusion shows – but the film then fast-forwards to a show the group is performing at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand in which they select a seemingly unassuming French tourist from the audience and supposedly transport him through a “beaming machine” to his bank in France, where some kind of mumbo-jumbo is performed once he’s inside the bank’s vault. The audience at the Vegas show – as well as us as viewers – are lead to believe the French guy has actually been transported to France in this “machine” The Four Horsemen bring on stage, however, of course, not all is what it seems…in the audience sitting next to his ultra-glamorous and drop-dead-gorgeous assistant (and maybe love interest?) is Morgan Freeman’s “Thaddeus Bradley” character, a renowned public debunker of magicians and their tricks. When a real bank in France is robbed at the exact same moment The Four Horsemen’s trick takes place in Vegas and it’s believed the magic group is responsible, the Vegas FBI assigns agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) to the case, who immediately makes contact with Thaddeus for help.

In the middle is Michael Caine’s “Arthur Tressler” character, the millionaire behind The Four Horsemen – but not the one who brought them together – funding all their worldwide tours in which they apparently make audiences think they’re getting money back for them when all the time they’re stealing it. Like I said earlier, all this gets thick, hokey and misleading after awhile; meanwhile, once the bank in Paris is robbed, Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) is assigned to assist Rhodes in America with finding the magic group supposedly responsible for the heist. The skeptical Rhodes has all members of The Four Horsemen brought in and handcuffed in separate interrogation rooms, where the magicians work their charm and “talents” to confuse the FBI agent and create more illusion and deception about what’s going on. If anything, Now You See Me makes you wonder if any of these “tricks” or “illusions” are actually real or able to be pulled off; we know about all the rabbit-out-of-the-hat tricks and such, but once these people get to David Copperfield territory, you really gotta start to wonder…do they really make buildings move before our eyes? Can they transport themselves around the world in the blink of an eye? Of course, the answer to these questions is most undoubtedly “ummmm...NO,” but it still makes one wonder…

Thaddeus begins explaining to Rhodes all the in’s and out’s of magicians and their so-called tricks, showing him and his Interpol partner exactly how he believes they pulled off the Vegas heist, done with a secret mock version of the French bank below the stage at the MGM Grand’s Grand Garden Arena in which the tourist dropped into – not by going into a “transport device” – the room and believed he was in his own bank in Paris while simultaneously cleaning out the money in the real vault. All this gets overtly hokey and hard to believe/follow after awhile, but Thaddeus sheds some light on what illusionists are all about in these sequences and how they pull off these “tricks” – even divulging to Rhodes that the French tourist, and most of the audience at the Vegas show that night, wasn’t a “random pick” at all…that they may have gotten to him weeks before the performance, putting into his mind while still in France that he needed to come to Vegas and participate in this show.

While all this seems very far-fetched, Rhodes and his team including Alma, FBI partner Fuller (Michael Kelly) and superior officer Evans (Common) stay hot on the heels of The Four Horsemen, desperately trying to remain one step ahead of the glamorous, star-studded magic group. They learn that the group’s next show is going to be in New Orleans and they try and get a leg up on them by putting agents into place around the venue they’re appearing in so there’s no chance of escaping with any money. This sequence in New Orleans, during Mardi Gras, was one of the more drawn-out centerpiece scenes of the film, The Four Horsemen somehow managing to drain the bank account of their own benefactor Arthur Tressler to add that money into the audience’s accounts – all in real time. However, this was not done with approval by Arthur, and the millionaire appears enraged when he’s on stage and learns how his bank account is dwindling with every “trick” the group does. Leaving him chained to the stage floor, the group makes their way out of the New Orleans venue as Rhodes attempts to arrest them along with other FBI agents. However, due to an illusionary technique used by the group during the show on some select audience members, Rhodes and some of his team converging on the stage are rushed by these people when a secret word is said, tackling them like football players and preventing the FBI from stopping the Horsemen from escaping. Humiliated and mocked by the media for what happened, Rhodes is now more determined than ever to stop the group before they steal more money in their next performance.

Now, Arthur – once dire enemies with the famous debunker – turns to Thaddeus for help in bringing down the magicians he once backed financially and who he trusted all this time. At this point, Thaddeus is working with both Arthur – who is paying him double what he stands to make in this whole fiasco – and the FBI, but we get the feeling he isn’t who he says he is…or at least that’s what the filmmakers want us to think. This is, after all, a film about magic and illusions…

There’s also a notion suggested by Thaddeus to Rhodes that his so-called Interpol assistant shouldn’t be seen as what she appears to be – that is, an innocent little Interpol agent sent to assist him with this case; Thaddeus tells Rhodes to remember what he taught him about magicians and their “pretty assistants” that are there to distract the audience from seeing what the illusionists are really doing. However, while we’re lead to believe that perhaps Alma isn’t what she says she is, an Interpol agent, and that she’s been put in place by The Four Horsemen to distract the FBI as they chase the group down, this element is eventually disproven. As the film draws to a conclusion, exciting chase sequences through the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, across a bridge in New York City and eventually in the neighborhood streets of Queens for the Horsemen’s “final performance” transpire, the FBI right on the heels of the group. At one point, during the chase on the New York City bridge, Rhodes is chasing down Dave Franco’s Jack Wilder character, traced back to the empty apartment from the beginning of the film by the FBI and who is now on the run in a vicious car chase through the city. The Chevy Malibu Jack is driving manages to flip over on the narrow bridge while Jack was attempting to rapidly exchange lanes and outrun the FBI agents in pursuit behind him, leading to the explosion of the car and, we’re lead to believe, the demise of Jack being he was “seen” still seatbelted into the front seat of the flipped-over, burning vehicle. However…again…all is not what it seems…

Somehow, the Horsemen manage to stage a “final performance” in a Queens, New York neighborhood littered with graffiti, in which, before a rousing crowd, they say their final goodbyes and appear to jump off a building, disappearing into a bundle of cash that rains down on the screaming people. We know they can’t be “gone,” though, right? Of course not; we see the Horsemen now on the run, jumping from Queens rooftops, again on the run from Rhodes and his team. The concluding frames of the film are most confusing and disappointing, making us believe there’s some kind of supernatural connection to magicians and what is known as “The Eye” – this is revealed by the character that becomes the story’s biggest plot twist that I mentioned earlier and which I won’t divulge. Let’s just say that once you witness this character locking the normally un-trickable Thaddeus Bradley in an abandoned jail cell somewhere in New York (this was a very odd setpiece) to Thaddeus’ own shock, you’ll be just as surprised and amazed. This element, however, couldn’t save this film from getting hokey and even somewhat boring after awhile, the themes on display here asking us to believe in things that indeed seem too unbelievable. It was a decently-spent two hours, but wasn’t one of the most memorable pieces of motion picture material I’ve ever laid eyes on; perhaps those who are far more into magic will appreciate it more.


For standard DVD, Now You See Me looked fine. The 2.40:1 transfer was devoid of any real problems or issues, save for the very minor and unavoidable slight twitching in the image due to compression techniques – but beyond that, much of the visuals remained high def-like for the most part, exhibiting accurate skin tones, somewhat rich color schemes and temperatures and a stable, detail-laden look.


The English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Region 1 DVD was about average in many ways; at times, the track exhibited a foreboding sense of dread and doom with droning, off-in-the-distance rumbles of LFE while at other times it remained quiet and hushed, not really opening up or breathing in any memorable fashion. Surround activity was present but not overtly aggressive; likewise for the overall power and volume heft of the track, which bordered, also, on average. Some explosions and action sequences were accompanied by nice, solid wallops of aggressive audio cues and/or LFE drops, but this wasn’t what I would call an “audio barnstormer.”


I expected more, being that I was intrigued by the trailers, but I suppose this is what a film about highly-trained magic artists and illusionists should be about and depict…as I said, some of it got really thick in certain spots, losing both me and my wife in more than one area, but it wasn’t terrible filmmaking. I’m a fan of Leterrier’s other work, but I think this would be more the cup of tea for magic enthusiasts or those who were smitten by Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. For me, this was a once-only.

Let me know what you thought of this is you’ve seen it!

Last edited by Osage_Winter; 09-04-13 at 06:41 PM.
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post #2 of 9 Old 09-04-13, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Re: NOW YOU SEE ME (DVD; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films)

Some minor nips and tucks made to review; thank you.
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post #3 of 9 Old 09-04-13, 07:04 PM
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Thanks for the review once again O. I will pick this one up when it sells at my local video store, I really liked the Prestige so this maybe for me.
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post #4 of 9 Old 09-04-13, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: NOW YOU SEE ME (DVD; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films)

B- one wrote: View Post
Thanks for the review once again O. I will pick this one up when it sells at my local video store, I really liked the Prestige so this maybe for me.
Hey B,

Glad I could be of assistance and thanks for reading; indeed, this one may have just been lost on me because I just didn't "get" the illusion sequences or what any of this was really, this could have been, for all intents, somewhat confused filmmaking or it could have been what we are discussing here, that some people may just have a better handle on the material (as it sounds like you may have). At any rate, check back in with the thread if you have a chance to view it...thanks!
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post #5 of 9 Old 09-04-13, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: NOW YOU SEE ME (DVD; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films)

Oh, and I wanted to add, B -- wait for that plot twist towards the end if you do see will have your head spinning because I for sure never saw it coming...
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post #6 of 9 Old 09-04-13, 07:29 PM
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Osage_Winter wrote: View Post
Oh, and I wanted to add, B -- wait for that plot twist towards the end if you do see will have your head spinning because I for sure never saw it coming...
I liked the film a bit more than you it seems, but I TOTALLY agree with you on the ending. Completely sideswiped me
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post #7 of 9 Old 09-04-13, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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Re: NOW YOU SEE ME (DVD; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films)

Mike Edwards wrote: View Post
I liked the film a bit more than you it seems, but I TOTALLY agree with you on the ending. Completely sideswiped me
Yeah; I totally didn't see that coming...

Those who haven't yet seen this, be sure to stay for the ending because you'll really be saying "wow...never thought it..."
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post #8 of 9 Old 09-06-13, 03:01 PM
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Re: NOW YOU SEE ME (DVD; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films)

I just posted to Mike’s review and saw yours; I must say Osage we are in complete agreement on this one! By the end of the movie everything just got convoluted and “hokey” as you said. My friend and I were both shaking our heads at the waste of time, it had some potential but blew it big time in my opinion.
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post #9 of 9 Old 09-06-13, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: NOW YOU SEE ME (DVD; Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate Films)

As always, Infra, thanks so much for your input and thoughts -- indeed, we are in complete agreement on this...
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