Now You See Me

nowyouseeme-commentary1

Sandwiched between massive blockbusters (like Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel) and high-profile flops (like After Earth and The Lone Ranger), Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me became the little movie that could over the summer of 2013. On a relatively modest summer budget of $75m, the film grossed $117m (and counting) on the domestic side and will finish its worldwide run with well more than $300m. This makes it the highest-grossing film from Summit/Lionsgate outside of the Twilight and The Hunger Games franchises. The new Blu-ray includes a commentary with director Leterrier and his producer Bobby Cohen on the theatrical cut of the film. Of course, because they’re revealing the secrets of the feature film magic trick, they discuss all the plot twists in the movie. If you haven’t seen the film yet and don’t want these points spoiled, you might want to rent it first before proceeding. Fair warning: spoiler alert! And now, on to the commentary.

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Jesse Eisenberg

Watching an interview gone south is like witnessing the funniest car wreck ever unfold. It’s cringe-inducing, but you just can’t look away. Now, when you’re actually in that interview situation, for the most part, it’s not very funny. The best way to get past a rough experience is to laugh it off or remember that one interview gone south, especially if you do a lot of them, is bound to happen. Not every interviewee you come across you’re going to gel with and, in other cases, they’ll express zero interest in speaking with you and are only there because they have to be. Some talent see their time as precious, and if an interviewer isn’t respecting that with a poor attitude or a bizarre line of questioning, sometimes they’ll let the interviewer see their frustration in grouchy or comedic ways. The latter was the case for a recent Jesse Eisenberg interview, where his non-Now You See Me jokes didn’t quite land with the interviewer. Since the video has made waves, Eisenberg has taken some flack for his demeanor.

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now you see me 05

This weekend’s two major openers had something in common: each deceived us as far as being relevant to current hot-button issues. It’s a strange thing to fake, I know. Marketing mainstream Hollywood fare as having political messages would seem to be misguided. And the fact that both were sort of a misdirection anyway, that probably annoyed anyone who would go to see After Earth or Now You See Me because of the promise of substantial contemporary context. I can’t be the only person who is more interested in studio pictures when they at least address if not also deal with real world problems. I even went to see the Fright Night remake specifically because it incorporated some commentary on the housing crisis and its significance in Las Vegas. Now You See Me sold me similarly on its consideration of the Great Recession and banking crisis. I thought this could be the most timely heist/con-artist film since Nine Queens, which is brilliantly set on the eve of a catastrophic bank collapse (interestingly, while filmmaker Fabián Bielinsky was merely dealing with fears of the times in Argentina, an actual national bank run did occur in a year after it debuted). In the trailer for the new movie, after we see a trick involving a bank robbery we hear the magician characters played by Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson mention their audience has experienced hard times, losing their homes and cars. It appears as though the movie is about Robin Hood-like illusionists stealing […]

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NOW YOU SEE ME

Now You See Me must’ve been director Louis Leterrier‘s way of cleansing his palate. He’s coming off Clash of the Titans, a movie’s which problems were well covered upon its release. That hokey 3D conversion aside, it’s a film Leterrier doesn’t sound exceedingly pleased with. He’s not ashamed, as he points out in our chat, but the final product isn’t a representation of who he is as a filmmaker: someone who wants to make adventure movies, not “action” movies. Now You See Me is more in tune with Leterrier’s interests. It’s a movie that doesn’t rely solely on set pieces, but rather the charm of its cast and the strength of the script. If there’s a dull spot, a big ‘ol Kraken or a heavily bearded Liam Neeson can’t show up to provide the missing energy. It has to always be there for this type of movie to work. Good thing Leterrier’s movie is chalk full of actors who can make IKEA directions sound exciting. Speaking of excited, that’s something Leterrier certainly was in our extended chat with the man. If you want to know why he never needs to own a suit, read ahead.

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review now you see me2

2013′s summer movie season will likely go down as one of the biggest and be remembered for Iron Man 3‘s record-breaking box office, but there’s an unfortunate common theme developing here too. From Marvel’s film to Star Trek Into Darkness to the latest installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, this summer’s big studio releases appear to have given up even the pretense of intelligence in exchange for plain, dumb fun. That’s not a bad thing on it’s own, and to be clear, this isn’t an issue of believability as much as it is about shameless, lazy stupidity. Louis Leterrier‘s new film, Now You See Me, gleefully jumps into the fray hoping to skate by on the same “dumb but fun” mentality, but while the three movies above featured spectacular action set-pieces and big stunts to distract from their half-assed scripts this one instead has… magic tricks?

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kurtz

Box-office juggernauts Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman have been writing partners for 22 years now. After spending all that time together, it’s astonishing they haven’t come to hate each other, but the duo have managed to sidestep any signs of spitefulness. From television to the big screen, they’ve covered a fair amount of ground together. Orci and Kurtzman got to put Ethan Hunt through another mousetrap adventure in MI:III, they helped bring the Autobots and Decepticons to life, and now they’ve done the most obvious film imaginable: suave bank robbing magicians. With director Louis Leterrier‘s Now You See Me, the two men are once again seated firmly in the producer’s chair, where they’ve found themselves frequently over the past few years. This year alone they have three produced pictures being released, all of which are fairly, if not completely, high-profile projects. Now You See Me, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Ender’s Game don’t make for a shabby roster, and while speaking with the two men we concluded that all three represent the type of movies they love. Side note: If you missed out on our previous interview with Kurtzman and Orci discussing Star Trek Into Darkness, it can be found here. Here’s what Now You See Me producers Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci had to say about their approach to producing, not being snobs, and balancing art and commerce:

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Louis Leterrier

While 3D films (and those viscous little post-converted jobs) seem old hat nowadays, it was only a few short years ago that 3D wasn’t the standard mode of presentation for cinema’s biggest blockbusters. After Avatar, 3D was suddenly hip again and, more importantly, one hell of a moneymaker, which was why director Louis Leterrier‘s Clash of the Titans was famously post-converted to 3D to even more famously terrible results. The director has moved on from the bashing that his Clash took, but while chatting about his latest film, the magicians-gone-wild feature Now You See Me, the director still had plenty to say about the “gimmick” of 3D. Basically, Leterrier hates it, hates the practice of it, and doesn’t want to do it his audiences ever again. Point to Leterrier. In an interview with Mike Ryan over at The Huffington Post, Leterrier was incredibly candid when it came time to chatting about Clash, telling the outlet: It was a very tough experience. I was literally thrown under the bus…but at one point it was like, ‘Yeah, Louis chose the 3D.’ And I was like, ‘No, guys, I didn’t choose the 3D. I actually told you it’s not working. I couldn’t control it. I said don’t do it.’” The filmmaker continued on: “It was famously rushed and famously horrible. It was absolutely horrible, the 3D. Nothing was working, it was just a gimmick to steal money from the audience. I’m a good boy and I rolled with the punches and everything, but it’s not my movie. Clash of the Titans is not my […]

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nowyousee_harrelson

Is this new motion poster for Now You See Me an illusion, or is it magic? We can’t say for sure. Some sort of Photoshop wizardry is at play around Woody Harrelson’s character, so much so that I’ve already inadvertently typed “Woody Allen” three times while writing this article. Be it actual magic or just sleep deprivation, the fact remains: Now You See Me is coming soon and we’ve got a fancy poster exclusive to share with you.

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Star Trek Into Water

The Oscar season is long gone. Long gone, I say. Movies about old presidents and singing about your horrible life are over. As are the early dumping ground months, which weren’t all that horrible this year, thankfully. Now the summer movie season has begun. Marvel, once again, is starting things off on what won’t be a tough act to follow, but a pretty darn good one. Seeing Tony Stark crack jokes for two hours isn’t the only highlight of this month or this summer. Summer 2013 is packed with plenty of movies to act giddy over, both big and small. May represents what we should come to expect over the next three months with a nice amount of variety. There are ten films this month which are must-sees:

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NYSM

Let’s hope that Louis Leterrier‘s upcoming magician film, Now You See Me, fares a bit better than The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, because the director’s latest star-studded outing just looks cool as hell. The film centers on “The Four Horsemen” (totally a cooler name than just “The Incredible”), a pack of illusionists who pull off some mighty cool (yup, still cool) heists under the guise of magic shows. Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco as the Horsemen and Melanie Laurent, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Common in other, probably still cool roles, Now You See Me should shape up to be a, wait for it, cool time at the movies. Check out its stylish new poster up above. Now You See Me appears in theaters on May 31st. [Press Release]

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Now You See Me

Seeing as it’s a Louis Leterrier movie, of course the first trailer for Now You See Me is high energy and loud. Jesse Eisenberg is yelling into a microphone, people are disappearing with flashes of electricity, Isla Fisher’s smile is blinding you, and the contents of a bank’s vault are raining down on a jacked up theater audience. And this is all before the action starts. Then you gets showdowns and chase scenes, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine trading dialogue about grizzled old man doom and gloom, and Mark Ruffalo looking like he’s right in his wheelhouse playing a frazzled and out of sorts police inspector trying to keep up with a team of ultra-competent, bank robbing magicians. Sounds like this movie has something for everyone, no? Check it out after the break, and let us know what you think.

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Heist movies are usually about that one big score. That one massive job that’s too risky to take on, but too enticing to pass up. In order to motivate heist movie characters to step out of their comfort zones and take big risks, whatever they’re breaking into has to have a pretty big booty. But with each passing announcement, it becomes clearer and clearer that in Louis Leterrier’s upcoming heist film Now You See Me, the most valuable thing on screen won’t be the stockpiles of cash the illusionist characters steal from the world’s banks, but the amazing cast that he has assembled to bring these characters to life. It seems like almost on a bi-weekly basis some new casting announcement is made about this film that tops the last, and the latest comes from Movie Hole, who reports that Michael Caine has become the latest actor to join an already bursting at the seams ensemble. This puts him in a group of actors including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Woody Harrelson. Admittedly, Movie Hole’s accuracy rate at breaking news stories has been a little bit dubious, but The Playlist, a publication with a better batting record, has confirmed the story as well, so there must be some legitimacy to what Movie Hole’s secret source is saying. And if Movie Hole’s source knows what it’s talking about, then it raises another question about the film. Their source mentions the fact that Woody […]

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I’m not going to go on too long here. I’ve already written pages about how excited I am about the casting process for Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me. Leterrier and company started out strong by casting Jesse Eisenberg in the lead role, then in rapid succession they added names like Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, and Isla Fisher. This movie about bank robbing magicians has a next level cast, and it just keeps getting better. Variety is reporting that Woody Harrelson is the latest name to join the ensemble. Harrelson, one of the most delightful to watch and underrated actors in Hollywood, will be playing the role of Merritt Osbourne, a hypnotist and mentalist who can pull Jedi mind tricks on people. He used to perform for the Queen of England, but some sort of vaguely violent incident has forced him to relocate to Las Vegas where he becomes a member of the Four Horsemen, Eisenberg’s group of bank robbing magicians. Well, that about takes care of that; best movie ever.

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The casting process for Louis Leterrier’s upcoming heist film Now You See Me has played like a magician’s stage show up to this point. One after another, Leterrier has pulled actors I love out of his hat to fill the roles of the bank robber magicians and the government agents who will be tracking them down. But recently that process has hit something of a snag. The genie has been taken out of the bottle, because Variety is reporting that Amanda Seyfried has passed on playing the role of Henley, the master technician of the magician crew. For her sake, I hope that she isn’t passing up on this interesting sounding film to do yet another terrible movie like Red Riding Hood, but I guess we both need to just move on. Breaking up is hard. Moving on might be kind of easy though, as that same Variety article is also reporting that now that Seyfried is done sniffing around the role, the next step to finding a gadget gal for Jesse Eisenberg and his crew of bank robbing illusionists is to negotiate with Isla Fisher for the role. Fisher is charming, funny, and nice to look at, plus she doesn’t do nearly enough live action stuff, so I approve of this decision. That loss of Seyfried is going to hurt, I’m not gonna lie, but sticking a bubbly redhead in her place is a damn good way to make up for it. And more good news is that Mark […]

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I’m starting to feel a pretty strange connection to Louis Leterrier‘s upcoming heist movie Now You See Me. First he seemed to be practically reading my mind by casting all of my favorite actors in prominent roles. And now, just days after I randomly and nonsensically mentioned Morgan Freeman in an article reporting on Mark Ruffalo and Amanda Seyfried joining the cast, comes word that Leterrier is negotiating with Freeman to join the film as well. Hello? Louis? Are you in there? Can you hear my thoughts? Let’s run down the cast once more, and see where Freeman fits in. Jesse Eisenberg is set to play the leader of a group of magicians (now being referred to as “the Four Horsemen” in the Variety article) who use their powers of illusion to rob banks and then shower the audience at their magic shows with money. Mark Ruffalo will play the head F.B.I. dude intent on shutting their little crime ring down. Amanda Seyfried will be playing the technician that builds all of the magicians’ equipment. And Melanie Laurent is set to play a lead character who sits on the right side of the law.

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Louis Leterrier seems to be intent on pulling off the greatest magic trick of all time: getting all of my favorite young actors to appear in the same film. A movie about illusionists turned bank robbers playing a game of cat and mouse with the F.B.I. is interesting enough just as a pitch, but every new name he adds to the Now You See Me cast ends up making me more and more excited to see the end product. First he snagged Jesse Eisenberg to play the lead role. Eisenberg is an actor that started turning heads with The Squid and the Whale and then just kept turning in constantly solid work until finally achieving mainstream acclaim with his turn as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Any notion of him being the other Michael Cera has been long disproven. After getting a leading man, Leterrier needed an equally charming leading lady so he went after French actress Melanie Laurent. She, of course, is the feisty little philly who blew everyone (including important Nazi officials) away as Shoshanna in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. That’s quite a pair already.

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A while back I first heard that Louis Leterrier’s next project was going to be a heist movie about magicians who robbed banks. It was an interesting enough concept to pique my interest, but I still had a bad taste left in my mouth after Clash of the Titans. I guess enough time must have passed, because hearing about the project again, I don’t find much of that ill will still remaining. I think I’m kind of looking forward to this next movie. It just might be a new day for Leterrier and me. Or maybe I’m just happy that the new news about the film is that Melanie Laurent is in negotiations to play the female lead. I do so crush on that little pixie-like lady. You know who she is, right? The girl from Inglorious Basterds and Beginners? Yeah, she’s fun. Jake Gyllenhaal was also pondering the idea of joining the cast for a while, but seems to have passed for one reason or another. But that doesn’t break my heart much, because Jesse Eisenberg is still set to star. After his recent string of awesome films I’d say that I’ve developed a little bit of a man-crush on the Eisenberg, so if Leterrier manages to score Laurent he will be 2 for 2 with me. Eisenberg, Laurent, in a movie about the FBI tracking down bank robber magicians? Yeah, I’m down with that. Clash of the Titans who? [Variety]

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Louis Leterrier started his directing career off strong. Most people found his films The Transporter and Transporter 2 to be fun action romps that came out of nowhere and took Jason Statham’s career to the next level. Then he made The Hulk, which got mixed reactions, but everyone seemed to agree it was a step in the right direction after Ang Lee’s mess of a take on the character. This was the “now you see me” part of Leterrier’s career. Then he made Clash of the Titans. I haven’t heard anybody say a good thing about it yet. As a matter of fact, that film has sort of become the poster child both for lame 3D conversions and the mediocrity of last summer’s blockbuster season. If Leterrier doesn’t follow that stinker up with something that people respond better to, he may just be entering the “now you don’t” phase of his career. Well, we’ve now got word of what that follow-up will be. Leterrier has signed on to make Now You See Me for Summit Entertainment. The film is described as a cat and mouse game between a crack team of FBI agents and a team of bank robbers made up of the world’s greatest illusionists. The robbers apparently perform these heists during their shows and then shower the money on their audiences.

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