It’s pretty simple really. If you don’t like magic tricks, you won’t like “Now You See Me,” the new heist movie featuring a band of magicians. However, for the rest of us, this flick is one wild ride. It is unique, clever and very entertaining. It is not based on a book, a video game or even a board game. And it’s not a sequel. With a PG-13 rating, it is almost squeaky clean. It even raises a few philosophical questions to boot.
“Now You See Me” is the unbelievable, yet thoroughly entertaining story about one dimensional characters. The movie is plot-driven with little character development. Ego plays a big role here. There isn’t a humble character in the bunch. Everyone is a smug individual and all seem to adhere to a line that is repeated throughout the film: “Always be the smartest person in the room.” However, those who read the good book know that pride comes before the fall.
The cat and mouse story pits the FBI against a band of some of the world’s most talented illusionists called the Four Horsemen. The foursome are summoned individually by a mystery person and each are disappointed to find out that they were not the only one called. The Four Horsemen are:
J. Daniel Atlas (Jessie “nobody does smug like me” Eisenberg), a popular street magician
Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a mentalist/hypnotist who no longer bathes in the limelight
Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), an escape artist
Jack Wilder (Dave Franco, brother of James), a seemingly poor street magician but in reality is con artist
The four put on a show in Vegas financed by Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) who is just as arrogant as they are proud of themselves. Meanwhile, the group is under the threat of being exposed by Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) who is a renowned magic debunker. Finally, add the FBI team lead by Dyland Rhones (Mark Ruffalo), Agent Fuller (Michael J. Kelly) and newbie Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent), an agent on her first case away from the desk.
Much like a modern day story of Robin Hood, the Four Horsemen are called to work on “the plan” that involves stealing from the rich and giving to, well, everyone else. The story is a mystery causing you to guess who is the “good guy” and who is the “bad guy,” what every character’s motivation is and why they are so driven. Can four self-centered people truly work together? Is magic always just sleight of hand or can it be real?
While most of the plot points have logical conclusions, not all do. How many of the magic tricks are done are revealed while other aspects of the tricks are cleverly ignored. Ruffalo’s character is convinced that every action has a logical solution, while his partner asks the question, “Do you know of anything that you can’t see but know that it is real just the same?” Without meaning to, the story becomes a great example on faith and false religion. Who and what do you believe in? Who can you trust and why? A verse comes to mind, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
“Now You See Me” will keep you guessing all the way through. It has a definite ending (albeit not exactly a satisfying one) but leaves the door open for a possible sequel; an invitation to a show that I would not want to miss.