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Now You See Me (2013)

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Just got back from this one and it's so goddamned stupid it hurts. Zero character development (except for one character but then we find out that character was lying the entire time), nonsense plot and a twist that makes Shyamalan look like a master. I suspect this would have provided greater fodder for the podcast than After Earth will. It's just....gah! So stupid. This movie actually made me angry, which is incredibly rare as I have a high tolerance for bad movies.

 

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I didn't think this one was so bad. The twist was perfect in line with the theme of magic and its properties, though the idea of the secret society was a bit much. Plus you have a scene where even Morgan Freeman's character narrates his own DVD within the movie, you can't go wrong with that.

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That twist made no sense, and in retrospect made that particular character's actions throughout the movie make no sense. It felt like they were picking it solely based on the fact that the audience would never guess it, not because it was good storytelling or made a lick of sense. And of course the audience wouldn't guess it, there's no foundation laid for it! I dunno, this movie just made me mad. I need to go pop in The Prestige so I can remember that good magician movies featuring Michael Caine do exist.

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The twist's foundation was mentioned in how the dead magician had prepared for a trick 20 years in advance by putting a card in a tree. The character who put the plan into motion needed to do something above and beyond to get back at those who wronged him and his family, but needed a way to make it so that it would not be obvious to those he was targeting, the proverbial misdirection.

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I wouldn't say that lays the foundation for the actual twist so much as it gives you a very vague notion that something is going on behind-the-scenes. Again, look at the twist and then examine that character's behavior throughout the movie. A movie has to play fair with its audience, and I'd say this movie did not. The twist was a bridge too far for me.

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But the whole idea of a twist is to not be fair to the audience as it messes with perceived notions of the audience. Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, Saw, The Empire Strikes Back, all had twists that played with the notions of the audience and were not in line with the behavior of characters, that is why they are twists. Look at the Usual Suspects, the whole movie is basically a two armed man (Verbal Kint) beating up a one armed man (the audience) in a fistfight story-wise. He spends the bulk of two hours telling us a story of how over two dozen men died in a "drug deal gone bad" only for the audience to find out at the end that not only was he behind it all, but that he was the mythical Keyser Soze. None of what he said was in line with his behavior up to that point, but that is why it is the twist.

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But the whole idea of a twist is to not be fair to the audience as it messes with perceived notions of the audience. Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, Saw, The Empire Strikes Back, all had twists that played with the notions of the audience and were not in line with the behavior of characters, that is why they are twists. Look at the Usual Suspects, the whole movie is basically a two armed man (Verbal Kint) beating up a one armed man (the audience) in a fistfight story-wise. He spends the bulk of two hours telling us a story of how over two dozen men died in a "drug deal gone bad" only for the audience to find out at the end that not only was he behind it all, but that he was the mythical Keyser Soze. None of what he said was in line with his behavior up to that point, but that is why it is the twist.

 

Those twists are all reasonable within their respective movie's rules. You are given tons of hints throughout both Fight Club and Sixth Sense as to what is actually going on. Verbal Kint is an unreliable narrator. I'm fine with a character lying, but the problem is this movie does not earn its twist in any way, shape, or form. The twist is nonsense. It means the character in question is constantly working against their own goals. It's garbage. As a general rule, if your twist relies on a last minute info dump of points the audience couldn't have possibly known. it's not a good twist.

 

There's an old Neil Simon movie called Murder By Death that does a nice job of making fun of these sorts of out-of-nowhere twists.

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But with Fight Club and Sixth Sense the clues were fairly well hidden, especially in the latter, that they required multiple viewings or reading interviews to get the understanding. This movie earns its twist with its use of misdirection as the audience was thinking that the Interpol agent was behind it the whole time, when in the end it wasn't the case. The character who was behind it all was essentially a mole. You go just enough to give the perception that you are trying to bring down some thieves, but not enough to actually catch them. It's like how Matt Damon/Leo DiCaprio in the Departed would do what was necessary to keep their cover, but not so much as to completely give themselves away.

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But with Fight Club and Sixth Sense the clues were fairly well hidden, especially in the latter, that they required multiple viewings or reading interviews to get the understanding. This movie earns its twist with its use of misdirection as the audience was thinking that the Interpol agent was behind it the whole time, when in the end it wasn't the case. The character who was behind it all was essentially a mole. You go just enough to give the perception that you are trying to bring down some thieves, but not enough to actually catch them. It's like how Matt Damon/Leo DiCaprio in the Departed would do what was necessary to keep their cover, but not so much as to completely give themselves away.

 

You're actually pointing out exactly why this movie's twist isn't good. You can't go back and watch this movie again and put together the pieces like with Sixth Sense or Fight Club because there are no pieces. The movie does not give you any reasonable hint about its twist, and once it's revealed, it makes other parts of the film make less sense. There's no payoff with that twist.

 

That aside, my biggest issue with this movie is the piss-poor character development. The movie never makes any effort to make you like any of these people. Why care what's going on when you don't care about the people involved?

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But there are movies where the pieces aren't there and work. Empire Strikes Back comes to mind as it was completely out of the blue that Vader was Luke's Father, Fight Club's only real clue was a quick scene between Ed Norton and Helena Bonham Carter in the beginning of the movie and miniscule cuts showing Tyler in the beginning a la the dick shots in animated movies, and the original Saw's twist was out of nowhere as Jigsaw was barely shown before the reveal. This movie's twist isn't the best but it's definitely not the worst, Signs and High Tension come to mind for that honor.

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But there are movies where the pieces aren't there and work. Empire Strikes Back comes to mind as it was completely out of the blue that Vader was Luke's Father, Fight Club's only real clue was a quick scene between Ed Norton and Helena Bonham Carter in the beginning of the movie and miniscule cuts showing Tyler in the beginning a la the dick shots in animated movies, and the original Saw's twist was out of nowhere as Jigsaw was barely shown before the reveal. This movie's twist isn't the best but it's definitely not the worst, Signs and High Tension come to mind for that honor.

 

Whatever flaws Signs might have, that twist is phoned in right from the start. The little girl is obsessed with water and she keeps leaving the glasses around, they say the aliens have all landed in non-coastal areas, Shyamalan's character even says 'I think they don't like water'. They lay the backstory with the wife and his brother's failed baseball career, etc. Even if the twist is stupid, there's a foundation laid for it. This movie doesn't do any of that. Like I said, the twist isn't earned. Signs at least spent time letting us have some affection for its characters. Everyone in this movie is basically a cipher. They do things because the plot needs them to, not because they are fully developed characters.

 

Saw's twist doesn't negate anything that happened in the movie before that moment. Empire's twist makes the story better, because it adds another obstacle to Luke's path to killing Darth Vader. The Fight Club twist fits the established universe and when you watch the movie again there are a ton of clues and it allows you to appreciate the movie on a whole new level. That does not happen in this movie. The twist here actually makes the movie worse, because it's so incongruous with the first hour and a half.

 

I don't disagree about High Tension, that movie was terrible.

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Even though Empire's twist makes it better, there was no foundation for it except that Obi Wan spoke through a different POV describing Annakin's death, which was even made fun of in the Robot Chicken specials as to how it was thrown in due to that fact. Fight Club was made intentionally ambiguous by David Fincher so as to not spoil the twist. The only real clues that Fincher and actors mentioned in the DVD commentary were the Brad Pitt single frames and the conversation between Norton and Carter after the first night she had sex Tyler Durden, other than that it was all very gray. These twists work in that they themselves are the foundation which cause you to go back and watch again with a new understanding, not that they were built into from the beginning.

 

I agree that the characters are all pretty cardboard in Now You See Me, but the twist had foundation in the descriptions of the dead magician and the misdirection nature of magic in general, yes it may have been phoned in like Signs, but the foundation was there.

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I honestly can't disagree more. The descriptions of the dead magician don't lay the foundation for that ending, which is why

 

*SPOILERS*

 

Mark Ruffalo has that massive info dump dialog at the end. Even the characters seem incredulous about that revelation. I kind of half expected Jessie Eisenberg to wink at the camera and say, 'This is nonsense, am I right?'. The twist is dumb, dumb, dumb.

 

Other random issues I had with this movie: Ruffalo goes after the safe company because the safes were 'substandard' and when his father dropped himself to the bottom of the East River the door warped and he couldn't get out. Well Mark Ruffalo, I'm pretty sure the safe company wasn't designing their safes to be dropped to the bottom of a river with a person inside.

 

There are several references to Robin Hood, but the magicians aren't doing anything noble. They don't even know why they're doing anything! Their motivations are purely selfish and they couldn't give a shit about any of the 'wrongs' they're supposedly righting.

 

And that brings me to my final thought, which is that everyone in this movie is an asshole. The 4 Horsemen are assholes, Mark Ruffalo is an asshole, Morgan Freeman is an asshole...the French Interpol agent is the only remotely likable character, and we barely spend any time with her. Arghhhhhhhh I hate this movie so much.

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I haven't seen it, but I understand there's quite a bit of CG, right? Doesn't that completely betray the magic gimmick right out of the gate?

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I haven't seen it, but I understand there's quite a bit of CG, right? Doesn't that completely betray the magic gimmick right out of the gate?

 

From watching the trailers, I was under the impression that somebody involved in the making of the movie had confused magic tricks with having superpowers. I don't care how great a magician you are, there's no way you can have somebody appear in a vault halfway around the world. (Some of my in-laws claim that this is explained in the movie. That must be one doozy of an explanation.)

 

And when I read what the twist ending was, I felt like if it was possible, I would slap the movie if I had sat through it and found it out. It's the kind of twist ending that gives twist endings a bad name.

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From watching the trailers, I was under the impression that somebody involved in the making of the movie had confused magic tricks with having superpowers. I don't care how great a magician you are, there's no way you can have somebody appear in a vault halfway around the world. (Some of my in-laws claim that this is explained in the movie. That must be one doozy of an explanation.)

 

And when I read what the twist ending was, I felt like if it was possible, I would slap the movie if I had sat through it and found it out. It's the kind of twist ending that gives twist endings a bad name.

There's a podcast I listen to called Film Junk where one of the guys described it as "Ocean's 11" without all the stuff that actually made you enjoy "Ocean's 11", like you don't see the interesting in-between stuff like the character interaction and planning, you just literally see them 30 seconds before they're going to do what they're about to do and then you're left with the cops the rest of the time. He also called it the dumbest movie he's seen since "Act of Valor" in that you have this interesting gimmick and then piss it all away by just making it like every similar movie out there. Again, I've only caught bits and pieces of it so far at my theater, but I seem to get a "21" vibe off of this, and that movie was so frustrating because it tried to show you how smart it was in the beginning, and then it just turns into cliches.

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Those parts of the movie, like the vault scene, are exposed by Morgan Freeman's character. And the vault's explanation is complicated and simple at the same time, where they basically pulled an Ocean's Eleven to do it.

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From watching the trailers, I was under the impression that somebody involved in the making of the movie had confused magic tricks with having superpowers. I don't care how great a magician you are, there's no way you can have somebody appear in a vault halfway around the world. (Some of my in-laws claim that this is explained in the movie. That must be one doozy of an explanation.)

 

And when I read what the twist ending was, I felt like if it was possible, I would slap the movie if I had sat through it and found it out. It's the kind of twist ending that gives twist endings a bad name.

 

The explanation for the teleportation bit is actually...well, it's one of the simpler explanations in the movie. Of all the impossible things that happen in the movie, that one is probably the least impossible. But yes, the movie is full of ridiculous CGI.

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Saw this over the weekend and seantron wraps up my feelings about this movie.

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From watching the trailers, I was under the impression that somebody involved in the making of the movie had confused magic tricks with having superpowers. I don't care how great a magician you are, there's no way you can have somebody appear in a vault halfway around the world. (Some of my in-laws claim that this is explained in the movie. That must be one doozy of an explanation.)

 

And when I read what the twist ending was, I felt like if it was possible, I would slap the movie if I had sat through it and found it out. It's the kind of twist ending that gives twist endings a bad name.

 

The "trap door into a bank vault" trick, and the subsequent "explanation" by Morgan Freeman were complete shit. Okay, so Morgan Freeman takes "FBI Agent" Ruffalo back to the scene of the Las Vegas performance. Ruffalo steps into the magic teleportation device ... to the viewer's eye, the device operates in such a manner that Ruffalo would almost certainly DIE from being crushed. Any explanation as to why Ruffalo's not reduced into a pancake of blood and bones? No.

 

So instead of Ruffalo getting murdered by the teleportation device, he falls through a trap door into a "simulated" set of the French Bank Vault. Seconds after Ruffalo falls thru the trap door, Freeman and his compatriots walk into the fake bank vault. Where the hell is Freeman walking from? If freeman didn't go thru the trap door, then how does he instantly walk from the main stage into the fake vault?

 

In the fake vault, Freeman's character "Thaddeus Bradley" ( :(:angry::huh: ) delivers a condescending explanation that OF COURSE there was no magical teleportation to france, because this is a stage set, don't you see. BUT WHO CARES ABOUT ANY OF THAT BULLSHIT if the whole teleportation device/ trapdoor mechanism makes ZERO FUCKING SENSE in the physical world as we know it?

 

The filmmakers are trying to combine the elegant mechanics of a classic heist film with Harry-Potter CGI nonsense magic. The combination doesn't work at all.

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I

And that brings me to my final thought, which is that everyone in this movie is an asshole. The 4 Horsemen are assholes, Mark Ruffalo is an asshole, Morgan Freeman is an asshole...the French Interpol agent is the only remotely likable character, and we barely spend any time with her. Arghhhhhhhh I hate this movie so much.

 

This is my problem with a lot of movies ... "Avatar" comes to my mind. I feel like the "everyone is an asshole" trend really took root in 1980s action movies, where you started seeing a lot of characters who weren't really characters ... they were more like delivery devices for shitty wisecracks.

 

Yeah, French Interpol lady seemed pleasant and lovely, but she was entirely unnecessary to the movie. She didn't really belong within that universe of shitheads.

 

I'm gonna backtrack a little on this position by saying that I did kinda enjoy the scene where we're initially introduced to Woody Harrelson's "mentalist" character. Harrelson's still got the ability to occasionally be funny within a dumb movie like this. The opening scene established that he was a skilled, but basically amoral, shakedown artist. But the scene is semi-redeemed by the fact that the victim of the shakedown sorta deserves it (Harrelson figures out that the dude's having an affair with his wife's sister).

 

... but after that scene, he was basically just an asshole like everyone else.

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This movie felt like the entire time they were saying "hey we're gonna have a twist!" "Betcha can't guess what our twist is gonna be!" "ooh man you're gonna be so impressed by our twist that you won't see coming!" but then like seantron said when it comes it makes no sense at all and feels like a twist for the sake of having a twist. It's like on April Fools day someone telling you how they're going to prank you so hard and you're on the lookout for it and at the end of the day they punch you in the nuts.

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Can someone give me a brief plot summary and what the "twist" is? I have no interest in seeing the movie but I'm curious as to why it's generating this discussion.

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