I’m The Invisible Man, Incredible How You Can, See Right Through Me!

Those were Queen’s lyrics, in case you don’t know the Invisible Man. Queen is amazing. Freddy Mercury was incredible.

Also, the lyrics seemed quite appropriate for the film Now You See Me, which I saw yesterday.

Now You See Me is a film all about misdirection, as the audience is taken on a journey of four magicians, who each answer a mysterious summons by tarot card and team up to create a master illusion. A year later, they are the Four Horseman, big time stage illusionists who climax their sold out Las Vegas show with an apparently real bank heist. This puts agents Dylan Rhodes of the FBI (Mark Ruffalo) and Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) of Interpol on the case to find out how they did it. What follows is an investigation where nothing is what it seems, in which the audience are reminded of the tagline of the film: the closer you look, the less you see.

I enjoyed this film. Although there were a couple things that I found questionable, or that suspended belief, it was dazzling, full of the light shows and dramatics that took my mind away from the slightly questionable plot. The CGI was good, you have to admit. There were also some well-known actors, who played their parts authentically, if not with a true depth of character, given the limits of the script, which had the problem of trying to develop 7 fairly major characters. So I enjoyed this film.

(hidden) SPOILER AHEAD

There are a lot of people who have commented on the improbability of the twist, or feel that the resolution of the film was too much of a dramatic reveal. I agree that the thought of someone planning out revenge ever since childhood, and entering the FBI and scheming for years and somehow finding the four magicians he needed for his plot to succeed…it’s a little far-fetched. But that’s more the premise. If you decide to go along with this premise, then the twist makes perfect sense. I felt that it was a good twist – unexpected, and fitting with the dramatic showmanship-style that pervaded the rest of the film.

However, my problem is more with the supporting character of Alma Dray from Interpol. Dylan Rhodes was played exceptionally well by Mark Ruffalo, full of bluster and anger and hiding beneath that loud, distracting façade, a guy with a hoodie who’d masterminded it all quietly and patiently for years. I definitely fell for that twist – it was the only thing that could have possibly made sense. The thing is, about halfway through the film, I had no idea who it could be because I felt that I’d used up all my options (of course, I didn’t actually guess that it was Dylan, but I didn’t guess that it was anyone else, either). A large part of this was because of Alma Dray. She’s meant to be a red herring, as her more sympathetic view and a few lines of dialogue point out to the audience; she is another piece of misdirection that the director uses to take our minds off the real culprit. I felt that she didn’t succeed. I was disappointed the clichéd “boy meets girl, they fall in love unexpectedly, boy confesses misdoings in exposition that reveals everything to the audience” subplot. I was also completely convinced that Alma was not the mastermind about 10 minutes into the film. There was nothing there to convince the audience of her part as the Fifth Horseman, in my opinion, and no depth of character at all – she was just there to give information in the resolution of the film and provide a counter-part to Dylan’s incompetency as a FBI agent. Alma Dray could have made for a much more engaging, interesting character, which I found disappointing 😦

What I think that the director did do really well was the symbolism of the tarot cards. When I saw them, I knew that they’d be important. Because I don’t do tarot readings or anything like that, I didn’t know how – I thought that they’d reflect an aspect of that character’s personality or their role in the film – not to give anything away, but if you’d like to read about the roles you can look here – but also, if you look at this site, which is very handy and identifies the myriad of tropes used in the film (I’m not kidding, there are dozens) with a spoiler-free format, you can see that it was actually much more complicated than that, and that the tarot motif had several interpretations which could all be seen as clues or clever bits of foreshadowing. Especially in regards to the Fifth Horseman (in fact, a major clue that the benefactor would be playing an active role in the heist was that there must be five tarot cards for a reading; thus, there must be five Horsemen).

As you can see, there were aspects that I really liked about the film, and others that I didn’t so much. Overall, I think it was an entertaining 118 minutes. What about you?

– Let’s call me Lily

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