Now You See Me (2013)

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Director: Louis Leterrier

Writers: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Rating: ★★★

Now You See Me is a film based on magic and illusions which mix into the criminal world, somehow all combining it creates a fun concept; however such a well-thought and fun concept is executed rather poorly to make for a film that falls a bit short of expectation. An all-star cast mostly give good performances and alongside some action and humour the film can be at times entertaining and an exciting experience.

The story centres on four magicians who each receive a mysterious calling card leading them to an obscure address with many secrets inside. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is a young, intelligent and popular magician, Merritt (Woody Harrelson) is a hypnotist who once had a good career but now finds pleasure by conning people out of money; the same can be said for Jack (Dave Franco) however he is much younger and a trickster, finally the fourth is an escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) together they will be known as the four horsemen. Four years after the calling card meeting they are together big-time stage illusionists and sell-out performers who climax their Las Vegas show by robbing a bank live on stage. With over $3 million flying around on stage and the impossible task looking achieved it puts the four magicians on the radar of FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and his Interpol companion Alma (Mélanie Laurent).  However, this mystery proves difficult to solve even with the insights of the professional illusion exposer, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). What follows is a bizarre investigation where nothing is what it seems with illusions, dark secrets and hidden agendas galore as all involved are reminded of a great truth in this puzzle: the closer you look, the less you see.

Now You See Me starts off very promising with entertaining introductions and a great what seemed lead in to the main plot of the film, however as twists occur it becomes very confusing. Although filled with action Act 2 is far from entertaining and until the end of Act 3 Now You See Me stays very frustrating. The concept made by  Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt is very exciting and fun, however its over complicated twists somewhat make it into three separate films combing into one with a variety of stories told and interlinked.  The task has been mastered before in likes of Pulp Fiction, but here it just doesn’t.

The cast is filled with some very big names, Jesse Eisenberg takes on the lead and he achieves again this clever witty character just like his role within The Social Network.  Woody Harrelson brings humour in many ways again like in previous roles such as ZombieLand and for me is the standout character and performer, however other performances were very mediocre and average, including those by Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.  The main element which proved to be the highlight for me was the special effects which showed the group’s illusions in full amazement and awe, and as an audience made us so intrigued within the first act of the film.

The flaws however all evolve around its story which is too confusing and executed very poorly by both writers and director alike and furthermore it seemed to drag for a while. My other criticism is how stories within the film are left unexplained and unfinished, such as the ending which should see the police eventually catch up with the four horsemen and furthermore the story involving Caine’s character was very swiftly forgotten by the writers and characters within the film.

Now You See Me is somewhat an easily watchable fun film especially for those more easy going cinemagoers, however at times it can prove to be a dragging and frustrating process. The story although a fun concept is what brings this film down and more so the average performances from some big name stars. Now You See Me in spells brings great entertainment and amazing illusions to screen, alongside some action making it just about worth-while.

Advertisements

Se7en (1995)

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman

Rating: ★★★★½

Se7en is thrilling, intelligent and iconic. David Fincher’s creation is possibly one of the best thrillers ever made, making for one of the most tense and suspense-filled viewings you could experience. The well-executed story is unique and gruesome, whilst the film editing, performance and sound all combine to produce a great end product. Se7en is David Fincher making a film that not only entertains but scars.

The story surrounds two cops, young “in your face” rookie Detective Mills (Brad Pitt) and his partner Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) who’s  old, calm and philosophical. The pair investigates a series of murders but soon realise that the killer is imitating the seven deadly sins with his victims, killing greed, gluttony, envy, sloth, pride, lust and wrath to teach “society” a lesson. However Mills and Somerset are up against an intelligent and sick-minded individual who uses the two detectives like puppets on a string, always being in charge. The film fuels from the hunt for the brutal serial killer, but as the story and case unfolds two of the best plot twists in cinema history unravel resulting in a thrilling nervous viewing experience.

Se7en has become such an iconic film due to its ability to provide in every area and element. The screenplay is the best from its genre and era combined, as it puts more than a few twists on the classic generic “cop vs. killer” thriller. The idea of embedding the seven deadly sins is brilliant and the way Fincher adapts this idea is pure gold. As the audience we see every drop of every blood spilt and every single centimetre of decayed flesh that leaves a gruesome image in your mind. As an audience we are really engaged and attached, the idea is that we are on this case and journey with Mills and Somerset, completely mystified, isolated and fearful. David Fincher again adding the components of a horror to astonishing effects, the dark foreboding feel and look created by his much used technique of a “bleach bypass” creates a much depressing film and experience leaving you stunned.

The performances captured by both Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are award-winning. Freeman’s portrayal of Somerset is great, creating a realistic display, my favourite being within the final scene. Brad Pitt was outstanding throughout and from his display especially that final scene again there’s no wonder that Fincher keeps recalling him. Technically Se7en is brilliant too; whilst many will shine praise onto the editing that was nominated for the Oscar I personally admire the score. The almost droning sound gets underneath your skin, making you constantly on edge. Howard Shore the composer to its original score deserves much credit.

Se7en was Fincher’s first blow-away film, it was from here that you knew more would follow and they’d get better, nastier and braver. Se7en isn’t an old film, but nevertheless it’s still popular at just over a decade on and I can see it being timeless and having an endless shelf-life. The final scenes alone will blow away competition from others, Se7en has this unique structure, it was very fast and upbeat throughout but during the end it slows down. This again un-eases the audience, it steadies us for one of the most horrific film endings. The impact Se7en has is remarkable. You walk away from the film reflecting on what a cruel world we live in. It’s that connection we have to the film and the characters that make it so special and what creates that impact. Se7en is certainly one of the “classics” from the last quarter-century and a film you really need to watch. It’s also a film that shows of classic Fincher.

My Top 5 Actors Of All Time

#5 Bruce Willis: Born March 19, 1995 he’s currently 58 years old and has been in the film industry since 1980. He features in the top ten stars in terms of box office receipts made. Most known for playing hot-headed, wisecracking and hard-edged characters he has his own franchise that is Die Hard where he plays officer “John Mclane”.

Die Hard (1988) is rated just outside the best 100 films of all time, and has brought along sequels of Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard: With a Vengeance and more recently Die Hard 4.0 (2007) and Die Hard: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013). The franchise has made $502,440,899 in lifetime gross being one of the most successful set of films of all time.

Bruce Willis isn’t just an action-hero, he’s played roles in dramas, thrillers and sci-fi films. Most popular playing the lead role in The Sixth Sense (1999), written and directed by at the time brilliant M. Night Shyamalan it got nominated for a staggering 6 Oscars and is rated 143rd best film of all time. He has also worked alongside with possibly the best screenplay writer and director of all time Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction (1994) and finally he played lead role as a taxi driver in the brilliant The Fifth Element (1997) and starred alongside an all-star cast in Twelve Monkeys (1995).

 

Staring as lead role in an amazing amount of award-winning successful films he definitely deserves to be on this list. For me he is the best action actor and my favourite. His roles in the Die Hard films are amazing and they are one of my favourite sets of films. He is a truly talented guy too also writing, producing films and occasionally making soundtracks. He’s had a stunning career and is still going strong to date, well done Bruno.

#4 Morgan Freeman: Always playing “God” in films he has established a very godly prestigious role in the film industry and Hollywood. Known for his calm, and authoritative voice and demeanour he is possibly one of most well-known actors to date. Born June 1st, 1937 some would say he’s been around since the Stone Age but with those years he’s featured in some of the best films ever made, on the way winning an Oscar and a further 55 awards.

Playing one of the lead characters in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) voted the best film of all time, his role as Ellis the prison “getter” will be remembered for a very long time. He also played alongside Brad Pitt in the hugely successful Se7en (1995). Total gross of all of Morgan Freeman’s films stands to a staggering $4,003,514,144 with films such as Deep Impact (1998), Robin Hood (1991) and Driving Miss Daisy (1989) providing a big lump of that sum also not forgetting the Batman films.

He finally won his much deserved Oscar in 2009 for Invictus where he had the honour of playing the character of Nelson Mandela in his first term as president of South Africa in a battle to win the Rugby World Cup. In his career he has also been on set with David Fincher, Clint Eastwood to create amazing films.

For me he’s an outstanding, talented actor and without him some of my favourite films wouldn’t be as good. His presence is unique and his ability to draw you into a film is unbelievable. I think he no doubt deserves the credit he gets and of course the spot on this list. Although old he’s still going but you have to admire his fantastic career in film whether it be acting, producing or writing.

#3 Brad Pitt: A name that everyone knows and an even more popular face. Brad Pitt born December 18th, 1963 started his quest to Hollywood fame in 1987 in “Hunk” as an un-credited character of a guy with a drink on a beach. A further 67 films later he has been nominated for 4 Oscars and has won 37 awards, featuring in possibly some of the best films made.

The film that everyone will remember is Fight Club (1999), he played alongside Edward Norton in a film rated 10th best film of all time, but shhh we’re not allowed to talk about it. He has further acted in films such as Se7en (1995), Twelve Monkeys (1995) where he got his first nomination for an Oscar, furthermore and more recently films such The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball (2011).

Moneyball a film that is personally one of my favourites, Brad Pitt played lead role as well as producing. About an underdog baseball team with a low-budget huge success it’s an incredible film that got nominated for a huge 6 Oscars. The total Box Office for Brad Pitts films stand  worldwide at 3 and a half billion dollars showing he’s a top actor in top films.

He’s an actor that brings a certain style and “coolness” to his films that no one else does. His outstanding acting and a relationship with Angelina Jolie he is probably the most famous Hollywood actor and is one of the highest paid A-Listers. He’s certainly a talented guy and with only being half way through his career we’ll definitely see more of Pitt, definitely deserving his place as #3 on this list.

#2 Leonardo DiCaprio: Just missing out on top spot is the heart-throb born in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio. Born November 11th 1974, he started his acting career with minor TV series but after making the world flutter as his performance of Jack in Titanic he cemented his position as an all time great.

In my opinion Mr. DiCaprio hasn’t done a bad film, from the likes of Catch Me If You Can (2002) and more recently The Great Gatsby (2013), he is one of my favourite actors making and performing in some of my favourite films. The world of cinema must think so too as he’s been nominated for 3 Oscars and a further 31 award wins.

Titanic (1997) being his most famous film alongside Inception (2010). In Titanic he played the character of Jack in a romantic drama that swept the nations heart. Although not featuring as frequently in films as other actors every film he has done has been hugely successful. Django Unchained (2012), Shutter Island (2010) and The Departed (2006) all sweeping in awards. His total box office for films standing at an almighty impressive $5billion.

With his unique charm and class alongside be innocent child like look there’s no wonder he’s a popular man. With his extreme talent there’s also no surprise he’s #2 on my list. He has featured in some of my favourite films and played some of my favourite characters, in the words of Jay Gatsby well done old sport.

#1Tom Hanks: top of my list and I’m sure many others is the great Tom Hanks. Not only has he featured and played the lead role in a number of timeless classics unlike most actors he has played in every genre of film, from comedies, dramas, war to romance, each giving an amazing performance. Born July 9th, 1956 in Concord USA Hanks started his career of acting in the 1980’s with various TV series to then play in films such as Big (1988), The ‘Burbs (1989). He is now known for much bigger classic films, all time greats and he is known for his amazing acting and unique voice.

Tom Hanks has played lead roles in films such as Forrest Gump (1994) and PPhiladelphia (1993) that both won him Oscars. Two more of my favourite films of his and of all time, Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Cast Away (2000) also got nominations for Oscars. It’s safe to say his films have had huge success, and no surprise his performances in both Forrest Gump and Cast Away are my favourite and deserve huge credit.

Over the course of his prestigious career Hanks total box office for films is just over $6billion, more than every actor accept Samuel L. Jackson. Over the last decade  he has also shown his talents as he has started to produce and write films such as Polar Express (2004) and Larry Crowne (2011). He’s my favourite actor mainly due to his appearance in a number of amazing films from the Toy Story series to You’ve Got Mail. I guarantee if you ask people they’re top 10 films Tom Hanks is lurking in there somewhere.

 

Tom Hanks tops the list for his unbelievable amount of amazing films and his all round nice guy personality. A truly talented guy responsible for some of the best films and performances in the last 30 years truly deserve top spot.