Now You See Me is a great movie about 4 magicians who band together to commit a series of crimes in order to join an elite organization. Jesse Eisenberg plays J. Daniel Atlas, a popular stage magician who is an extreme control freak and uses his celebrity status to hook up with women and has such a huge ego, it’s very difficult to like him at all. After Jesse Eisenberg played the social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg in Social Network, it’s not a far stretch for Jesse to play a character who is literally the smartest person in the room. The difference here being that the smartest person in the room is an extremely talented magician and slight of hand artist, not a socially awkward computer genius. Isla Fisher plays a former assistant to J. Daniel (Danny) Atlas and current stunt magician, Henley Reeves. Henley is an adorable, girl next door type who will happily step on your toes right after giving you an affectionate hug. She is clearly the eye candy of the group, and accordingly, is the target of affection by Woody Harrelson’s character, Merritt McKinney, a mentalist. Merritt is a free spirited hustler who uses his mentalism to manipulate those around him in order to profit financially. The youngest and least experienced of the group is Jack Wilder played by Dave Franco. A cocky slight of hand expert who exemplifies the meaning of the hand is faster than the eye. Tracking down these petty crime magicians turned organized masterminds, is FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes played by Mark Ruffalo.
Now You See Me starts out showcasing each of the four magicians, first Danny with his fast hands, card flipping talents and impressing a group of on lookers. Then on to Merritt, impressively using his hypnotism talents and mentalism skills to scam a couple out of several hundred dollars. On the top of a ferry boat is Jack, attempting to impress a crowd by bending a spoon with his mind and taunting them that he’ll give anyone $100.00 if they can explain how he does it, low and behold a young man does only to have his wallet and watch lifted right off him. Then on to the death defying beauty that is Henley trying to escape from a tank of water with oh so scary piranha looming to eat her alive; only to fool the crowd and reappear unscathed. During each introduction, a hooded figure observes each of the four magicians and ends up leaving each a Tarot card and on the back, a date and location for them to go to. Once in New York City, Danny and Henley are reunited first, then they meet the mentalist Merritt standing outside the door they are to arrive at. Shortly after a tri-fecta of witty banter, Jack arrives to reveal he was “chosen” as well and flawlessly picks the lock to the apartment which is effectively empty. A bit of trickery, investigation and very high tech digitally projected blue-prints later and the Four Horsemen are born.
Some time passes and the real show begins on a very large stage in Las Vegas where the incomparable Morgan Freeman and the timeless Michael Caine are introduced, more on them later. During this larger than life performance, they will magically rob a bank, in Paris no less. A gentleman from the crowd is an assistant, or perhaps accomplice might be more accurate, where he is magically teleported to France from Las Vegas, and steals approximately 3 million Euro which is then showered down onto the crowd back in Las Vegas. FBI Agent Rhodes receives a call about the robbery, where the Four Horsemen get arrested. During a very colorful interrogation, of which Jack sleeps the entire time, there is a wealth of character entertainment and development with Rhodes and the introduction of Interpol Agent Alma Dray played by relative new comer Melanie Laurent. The note worthy interaction is between Danny and the two Agents where he very impressively transfers the handcuffs from himself onto Agent Rhodes and the key is in the can of soda.
now-you-see-me1On to Thaddeus Bradley played by Morgan Freeman. It’s Morgan Freeman… awesome.
Now that the fan boy moment has passed, Thaddeus is a former magician who now makes a living debunking and revealing the secrets of other magicians including the Four Horsemen. Thaddeus explains to the Agents that Lionel Shrike had failed an escape stunt some 30 years earlier and that his first DVD special was about Lionel Shrike. Moving on, Thaddeus proceeds to show exactly how the Four Horsemen did the bank robbery stunt with great detail. Later, the Four Horsemen are on the way to New Orleans in the air on a lovely private plane assumingly owned by the financial benefactor of the Four Horseman, Arthur Tressler played by the legendary Michael Caine. It’s Michael Caine… awesome.
Damn fan boy moment happened again. Anyways, the two Agents are also en route to the “Big Easy” and have a very playful exchange regarding magic, techniques and discussing beliefs about life and why they do what they do. Once in the midst of Mardi Gras, the Agents begin establishing their plan to observe the Four Horsemen and discuss a bit of history about magic including more about Lionel Shrike, seemingly becoming a major element to the story. There is a delicate moment where Agent Dray tells a story about a bridge back in France, to which Rhodes gets a better understanding of where she’s coming from in her pursuit for justice. Cut to the introduction filming of Thaddeus’s new DVD special which is interrupted by Arthur who essentially threatens him to stop revealing the secrets of the Four Horsemen. Naturally, Thaddeus is completely unphased and unbothered by such finance fueled threats. Then Thaddeus returns the favor and interrupts the Four Horsemen before their next show and mentions an ancient and arcane group simply known as The Eye.
On to the big show where the Four Horsemen point out and completely publicly embarrass the two Agents who are in the audience. The show is essentially a collection of very basic tricks including a rabbit in a box, a group hypnotism experience, making bubbles which Henley flies around in and feats of playing card dexterity. On to the grand finally which is to long story short, siphon all of Arthur’s $144+ million dollars and allocate it to every member of the audience. WHAT?! They stole from their financial benefactor?! Yep, they sure did and explain that each member of the audience was a victim of hurricane Katrina and was more or less robbed by, Tressler Insurance. So the Four Horsemen are now pulling a Robin Hood move and robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. After a bit of chaos, the Four Horsemen of course escape from the Savoy Theater where Rhodes and Dray are in hot pursuit. Agent Dray hesitates when she has a chance to shoot Danny, but doesn’t. Rhodes is very upset with Dray and begins to doubt her intentions and motives, loosely thinking that she may be involved somehow.
After the dust has settled, a drunk Rhodes has a heated confrontation with Dray; a humiliated Arthur offers Thaddeus an awful lot of money to help expose the Four Horsemen; and a still drunk Rhodes has a heartfelt apology with Dray which leads to a much more detailed explanation of this mystic group The Eye as well as an awkward near romantic interaction.
From here, the details of the story begin to get into the range of being spoilerish and I am not a fan of deep details being revealed before seeing it. A daring escape, an impressive car chase, and one last huge magic presentation and all the secrets are revealed.
Now You See Me was a very good movie. It had a great mixture of plot, character development without over-doing it, hilarity, action and a really great fight sequence with Rhodes and Jack. I enjoyed this movie a lot, there are some impressive slight of hand scenes, solid cinematography and from what I can tell, a good music score too.