First I would like to begin with my usual disclaimer when it comes to any of the reviews I post. You have an option of reading and seeing spoilers or you have the option of knowing this review is here and waiting to read it until after you’ve seen the movie. That being said, if you continue to read and I quote “ruin” something for you, I told you there was going to be SPOILERS.
Second, I know that this movie is a bit old. I’m aware that most of you have probably seen it but it’s been in my pile of DVDs to watch and I finally got around to it. I have been wanting to see this movie since I came out in May 2013. However, I was unable to see it in the theater and my DVD had to wait. The movie was worth the wait……
Now You See Me came out on May 31, 2013. The trailer presented you with four magicians (who you learn were just street performers before becoming big) who have developed a well thought out and crafty trick. They begin to steal money all the while getting away with any sort of proof being pointed at them. Beautifully well thought out but with any good magic trick, it’s all about what you don’t see.
“The closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.” – J. Danial Atlas
Our four magicians (later named for their act the four horsemen) are J. Danial Atlas (played by Jesse Eisenberg, known for The Social Network and Zombieland), Merritt McKinney (played by Woodie Harrelson, known for Zombieland and White Men Can’t Jump), Henley Reeves (played by Isla Fisher, known for Confessions of a Shopaholic and Definitely, Maybe), and Jack Wilder (played by Dave Franco, known for 21 Jump Street and Warm Bodies). Now Atlas and Henley have worked together before, she was his assistant before they separated and developed their own acts. But before we can bring them together as a group show, we have to start with their individual tricks.
Merritt is known as The Mentalist, he uses hypnosis and other tricks to basically be able to read your mind. Atlas is The Showman, he knows how to make a simple little card trick into a bigger experience. Henley is The Escape Artist, which is exactly how it sounds. Jack is The Sleight, which is the trickster of the group and basically from the movie, the man who can open any lock.
“Nothing is ever really locked.” – Jack Wilder
However, these four were brought together by someone and you are introduced to this person early in the film (isn’t that always the way?). That being said, we move to them all being led to an apartment. They are all assigned to some great magical trick and a year later they begin the great trick.
We begin in Las Vegas. The four of them are completely part 1 of their act and they announce to the audience that they are going to be robbing a bank. They choose an audience member at random, or so you are led to believe, and they tell him that they are going to transport him to his bank in France and deliver money to the audience. A few little tricks and boom, the guy is sent to a bank and the money is sucked up. The money is deliver to the audience and the four return to their hotel room.
Oh if only it were that easy, we start with of course the cops getting involved because they did in fact rob that bank. The question is, how did they do it?
We are introduced to Dylan Rhodes (played by Mark Ruffalo, known for 13 Going on 30 and The Avengers). He is the cop assigned to, rather reluctantly mind you, case. He begins by interviewing each witness, including the guy who helped rob the bank. Merrick’s work comes out to play here when Dylan makes the mistake of saying the word “Bullshit” and having the guy play out an orchestra piece (I don’t quite remember what it was but it’s hilarious to watch). These are triggers left by The Four Horsemen in order to protect what happened. All four are in separate rooms and it becomes clear they are not going to rat on each other, and why should they, they have no real proof on how they did it. Dylan meets his partner for the case Alma Dray (played by Melanie Laurent), an agent from France here to help figure out what happened.
Dylan and Alma are left to The Showman, Atlas. He is handcuffed like the rest of them to the desk but while they go back and forth with some witty banter, it becomes clear he isn’t afraid either. And when he gets a rise out of Dylan, Atlas locks the cuffs around Dylan and the key is in the pop can that he kindly just gave Alma.
“First rule of magic: always be the smartest person in the room.” – J. Daniel Atlas
To jump a little ahead here, Dylan is confused on how to prove these guys did in fact rob the bank so he gets some help from a man named Thaddeus Bradley (played by Morgan Freeman, known for….well honestly you should know!), a former magician and a man who now goes around and reveals how a magician does their magic tricks. He was in the audience the night of the bank robbery and he has been watching them.
You learn that the group is sponsored by a guy named Arthur Tressler (played by Michael Caine, known for Batman Begins and Miss Congeniality). He is also the guy they screw over in the Part 2 act of their trick. The group travels to New Orleans and they want to improve the bank accounts of everyone in the audience. And they are going to do that with Tressler’s money. See he was the man who was supposed to pay out to everyone in the audience but didn’t. Now he does. And before this is revealed. Merrick take a group of 12 people and hypnotizes them to want to tackle someone if they yell out “Freeze”. They complete the trick and Dylan being the cop that he is, wants to stop them before they leave. They actually have an entire police force outside to catch the group. He runs up on stage and just before they are about to get away, he of course yells “Freeze!”. And here comes the 12 people to tackle him.
The four get away but they know their time is coming. They are going to be hunted down now and they have to hide all evidence of how to do the trick as well as get away. However, someone has to stay to make sure everything gets destroyed. The Sleight, Jack Wilder, is the one who is chosen for this mission (notice the Death tarot card on the table in this scene?).
Jack lets the cops get in while the other three get away and he cleverly fights them off and we end up in a police car chase. Well there’s a crash to end it and while Dylan is trying to save Jack from the burning wrecked car, he almost ends up dying himself and the car explodes. Jack is dead. There are other three left and another great trick to perform in NYC. The question is what is this grand finale and what are they going to do.
The group uses some technical stuff to appear one place and another and are able to get ahead of the cops. Alma and Dylan figure out a little too late that it’s a trick and where the group might be but in the end, the three of them get away. But what about the money for this trick that is being blown all around the sky? Well it’s all fake, it has pictures of The Four Horseman on it. It’s not the money that was stolen from the warehouse with a giant safe in it. But how did they get the money when the cops stopped the safe before it could be delivered? Oh don’t you remember? This is a magic trick guys!
The money is put into Thaddeus’ car. Yes, they are going to frame the man who was trying to reveal their trick to the world. The cops arrest him and he’s in jail. Dylan shows up to ask him how he did it, assuming of course that was the plan all along. Thaddeus reveals how they got away with all of their tricks. He tells Dylan that they used the mirror illusion from Part 2 of their act in New Orleans to fool the cops that the warehouse was in fact not empty but merely given the illusion. Someone came in and stole the money after they left, but who was it?
Jack Wilder, that’s right guys! Jack isn’t dead. He and the other used a simple little trick with a body stolen from the morgue to make it seem like Jack was dead. But who is the fifth horseman running the show?
Well if you haven’t figured it out by now….Dylan is the the man in charge. He has been working on this trick since his father’s death when he was 12 (he was also a magician). Dylan is the master mind and it takes Thaddeus just a little bit too long to figure out that it’s him. So much that Thaddeus will spend the rest of his time in a cell for it.
“What is magic? Focused deception. But deception meant to entertain.” – J. Daniel Atlas
There are clues pretty early on that Dylan is actually the man behind it all. First is that the person you see in the hoodie at each of their street acts is a shorter and built like a guy. Second is how quickly he suddenly wants to be on the case. Third is how did the tracker collar end up reading him instead of the four? There are several other clues but those are a few.
The main plot of this story focus’s on “The Eye”. It’s a society of magicians who steal from the rich and powerful to give to the needy. They have been around for many centuries and somehow always seem to be more than myth rather than truth. And these four want in. After all of this, the four do get to join The Eye and we have an ending. Oh wait, what is a good movie without a little love story right? Alma and Dylan have a little fling (I didn’t understand why this was necessary except for her to learn Dylan’s family history).
Overall, this is a very well written and acted movie. My rating is 9 out of 10 stars. I deduct a star for the fact of the little love story that was never fully developed and seemed honestly kinda of pointless. I loved everyone in the movie and the entire cast is so well put together that you really have to see it. I highly recommend that if you haven’t seen it (and you just read my review) that you do.
“Whatever is about to follow, whatever this grand trick is, is really going to amaze. Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.” – Thaddeus Bradley