Film Review — Money disappears like magic in heist flick ‘Now You See Me’

Isla Fisher (left) and Jesse Eisenberg in a scene from "Now You See Me." Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Isla Fisher (left) and Jesse Eisenberg in a scene from “Now You See Me.” Image courtesy of Summit Entertainment

By Amber M. Ward

Director Louis Leterrier’s new movie “Now You See Me” is a tale about the exploits of four similar, but very different “magic makers” as they combine forces to pull off three impossible heists while staying ahead of both the FBI and Interpol. See the trailer here: “Now You See Me” clip

Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) is J. Daniel Atlas, an arrogant illusionist who always has something up his sleeve. Woody Harrelson (“The Hunger Games”) plays Merritt McKinney, a mentalist and hypnotist who might know more about what is going on in your head than you do. Isla Fisher (“Rango”) is Henley Reeves, Atlas’ former assistant and daring damsel/rescuer solo act, and Dave Franco (“Warm Bodies”) portrays Jack Wilder, the underestimated and magical pickpocket. Separately they are good, but together they are seemingly unstoppable.

Brought together by a mystery person, they boast the most spectacular trick ever as they rob banks and millionaires blind without ever leaving the stage. The movie opens up with a great trick that immediately gets the audience’s attention as it introduces each character on their own trying to make it in the world. The four are united by a single card with an address left at their place of illusion by a suspicious person in a hoodie. A year later and they are performing in Las Vegas under the name of The Four Horsemen where they debut their first trick in a three-part heist — stealing over 300 million euros from a bank is Paris via a “transportation device.”

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo – “The Avengers”) is called in to interrogate and head up the case after the illusionists are easily caught after their first heist. He’s skeptical, but might have to start believing that maybe he isn’t the smartest man in the room if he and newly-assigned Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent-”Inglourious Basterds”) are going to stay ahead and catch the four horsemen before their finale.

Michael Caine (“The Prestige”) plays the horsemen’s millionaire sponsor Arthur Tressler, who seems more bark than bite. Morgan Freeman (“Batman Begins”) is Thaddeus Bradley, a magician turned magic debunker who is obviously jealous that he never got the invite into the rumored ultimate magician’s club and can’t help but bait poor Rhodes as he helps the investigation by explaining some of the horsemen’s tricks.

Twists, turns, and amazing acts of supposed magic make up this tale of both seeing the bigger picture and finding inspiration in what cannot be seen. The plot can lose some of its fluidity as we follow the poor detectives who just can’t seem to get ahead of our quartet, but the characters (though somewhat underdeveloped) are charming, arrogant, witty, and come together well to represent their own presentation and style within a single unit.

I did find the included history of magic and illusion to be fascinating. It gives the impression of allowing the audience to see how and why magicians and illusionists do what they do, while providing key points of focus for the actions behind our quartet’s crimes. The underlying story of a single magician and what happened to him runs throughout the movie and just provides more guessing games for the audience until the big reveal at the end. Why are these illusionists doing what they are doing?

Part magic, part cunning and part historical motivation, “Now You See Me” may not be the daring illusionist movie it set out to be, but it’s good fun all the same. The meaning of why performers use illusion is well represented, and the heists were enjoyable to try to work out. When you watch the movie, remember to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see, and you don’t want to miss this.

“Now You See Me,” a Lionsgate/Summit release, is rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 56 minutes. The film currently is playing at the Driftwood 6 Theater in Granbury and the Cinemark 6 Theater in Cleburne and Stephenville, as well as locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

Amber M. Ward is a San Angelo-based writer. 


One Response to Film Review — Money disappears like magic in heist flick ‘Now You See Me’

  1. Dan Malone Reply

    June 1, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I’ve enjoyed your reviews, Amber Marie Ward.

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