Iron Man Three, Star Trek, Fast 6, for a while I thought that the summer blockbuster season wasn’t ever going to skip a beat. But then I checked out my options for this week and was reminded that, yeah, if I’m planning on seeing a new release every weekend, I guess I’m going to have an occasional lineup of slim pickings.
And so I almost resigned myself to buying a ticket for Will Smith’s After Earth. I really, really didn’t want to see After Earth. I’ve seen the same way-too-long preview several times, and nothing about it looks interesting. The ship crash-lands. It’s the future. It’s Earth. Will Smith’s in it. Man, remember when Will Smith used to make only good movies? I’m glad I wasn’t writing movie reviews when Men In Black 3 premiered.
But just before I made my post-apocalyptic purchase, Yoda’s voice came alive in my head, “No. There is another.” And sure enough, there was another new release this week, a movie called Now You See Me. Huh. I’d never even heard of this movie. I was about to do a quick Google search to find out the general plot, something that could give me a clue as to what I might be in for, but I decided, fuck it, let’s go in blind.
Now You See Me starts off fast. It’s about four magicians who team up to rob banks, giving the money to the public in a Robin Hood display of vigilante economics. And for the first hour or so, it’s a pretty cool movie. The FBI gets involved and it turns into an old-school New York City heist movie, crazy crime-genre background music and all, something reminiscent of the original The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3.
But shit keeps escalating. Chase scenes give way to fight scenes that give way to car crashes. Instead of even beginning to hint at like a general direction in which the movie might be headed, they just keep on piling on random clues, mysterious characters, a few dead-end leads and even a flimsy romance subplot. After a little while you’re like, what? How? Who is this guy again? Wait, why are they robbing the banks?
And after that first enjoyable hour, the movie spirals out of control. The whole time I was thinking to myself, man, these writers had better have come up with something genius to get to some sort of a resolution, to even begin to answer all of these questions. And yeah, I guess it’s theoretically possible. There are movies out there that weave insane plots together in acts of superhuman storytelling.
But I kept thinking about how it’s so weird that a major movie studio could release a big summer film and not have any marketing campaign at all. Why hadn’t I seen this movie coming? Why weren’t there any previews during any of the other movies I’ve been watching every single week for the past three months?
While I don’t want to be a cynic, while I wanted to hold out hope that maybe they’d be able to yet turn this into a great movie, a moment of realism set in as I deduced that the only reason nobody’s heard about this movie is because maybe it really wouldn’t get any better. Maybe the writers wrote themselves into a corner and couldn’t figure a way out. But you know how big Hollywood is, they already signed Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson. Shooting was to begin in three weeks. If one group of writers couldn’t figure it out, they’d just fire them, get a new group in. Whatever, just write something, just wrap it up boys, we’ve got to get this film debuted by the end of May.
The ending of this movie is just an insult to intelligent life anywhere in the cosmos. I’d equate the making of this movie to the running of a marathon, one in which after twenty-five miles of agony, with only one mile left in sight, everybody just stopped. They just said, eh, whatever, who cares. I’m tired. I don’t feel like running anymore.
And then not only did they stop running, they didn’t even bother walking the rest of the way. They couldn’t manage even a limp to the finish line. In fact, they cheated, they took a cab to the end. Their score was totally disqualified. And then once they got there, they started punching random people in the face, stealing all of the other runners’ medals, knocking over tables of Gatorade for no good reason.
It’s like, what the hell guys, you’re only going to make half of a decent movie? Why bother? Is Morgan Freeman this desperate for work? Is Mark Ruffalo still trying to convince the world he’s a real actor after that ghost movie he made with Reese Witherspoon?
I really am sorry, because I don’t want to be so negative, but Now You See Me is a joke. A stupid, not-funny, fifteen-dollar-a-ticket joke. If you’re on an airplane flying across the country, and the in-flight entertainment system has this movie available to stream, do yourself a favor, just take a nap instead, or just sit up straight and stare at the back of the seat in front of you for two hours or so. Yeah, it might be a little boring, but at least it won’t be as incredibly disappointing.