NOW YOU SEE ME
By ‘The Amazing’ Gary Murray
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo
Written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Running time 116 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
Magic movies seldom come in as either bio-pics like Houdini or romances such as The Illusionist. Most use magic to make fun of the art form, churning punch-lines out of the act of illusion. Look no farther back than Burt Wonderstone to see how Hollywood mocks the illusionist. Making magic into something hip and cutting edge has become harder and harder to sell. The makers of Now You See Me have done just that.
This is the kind of film that the less known about it the better, magicians are not supposed to reveal their secrets The movie starts with four street magicians who are all working in different parts of the world an on different levels of success. J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is a Vegas street performer who uses magic to seduce young ladies. His former assistant Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is now a performer who does piranha stunts at small clubs. Imagine a Penn and Teller show but with a much prettier main act. Henley and J. Daniel have a history together.
Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is a mentalist who has fallen on hard times. As the film opens, he puts a wife under and then cons the husband out of a few hundred dollars. This is the best performance that Woody has done in years. He seems to be enjoying every scene stealing moment that he’s on screen.
The last member of this group is Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). He’s a con-man who uses magic to rob from innocent passersby. All four of them get a Tarot card that tells them to go to an apartment in NYC. There they find an emblem on the floor. That is the emblem for The Four Horseman.
Flash forward a year later and The Four Horseman are headlining in Las Vegas at a casino-hotel. The packed house includes Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). He is a magician who exposed tricks on the internet, robbing performers their craft of illusion. He makes millions by showing the gimmick behind the trick. The big ending of The Four Horseman show is to rob a bank in France. The show ends with money falling from the sky, it is real cash and not prop currency. The Four Horsemen have actually taken money from a bank in France.
Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is a cop assigned to the case. He doesn’t believe in magic and doesn’t believe that these four are anything more than common criminals. Since the first robbery has taken place in Paris, Interpol becomes involved in the case. They send Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) to help investigate the case. She believes that there is something more going on than just a con. She believes in real magic.
The film becomes a cat and mouse game between Dylan and The Four Horseman. Along for the ride is Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) a billionaire who seems to be supporting The Four Horsemen on their ascension to the crème of the magic world. Or maybe he’s a part of the con. There are twists and turns throughout this gem.
This is just an amazing little movie. It flies along to its final destination without ever giving away anything either in plot or character. When 95% of the audience has no idea how the film is actually going to end, the writers have crafted a unique experience. Director Louis Leterrier keeps a taut pace while dealing with a giant and complex story. He never holds back on the audience while delivering punch after punch.
With such a large cast, there are few individual moments for any member to shine. One has to just wait for that moment to take center stage. Jesse Eisenberg does the most amazing feat of all—he makes a magician look cool. When he says “The first rule of magic—always be the smartest guy in the room” you truly believe that he’s the smartest guy in the room. He is channeling the best of David Copperfield and Criss Angel in the reading.
Isla Fisher is given little to do other than be stunning. But, she does stunning very well. Her interactions with Jesse Eisenberg are so quick-witted that one just wants to see even more of them in the movie. As mentioned before, Woody Harrelson delivers a charming rogue with his portrayal.
Multiple viewings of this movie will probably reveal plot holes one could drive a truck through but the first time watching Now You See Me is such a wonderful experience. A magician doesn’t do the same trick twice and this is the kind of a movie that probably is best to see once on the big screen.