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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » August 1, 2013
Film review
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Now You See Me
August 1, 2013   
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Two of the most successful movies about magicians made recently, The Prestige (2007) by Christopher Nolan and The Illusionist (2007) by Neil Burger, were both period films—the first set in Victorian England and the second in Vienna at the twilight of the Habsburg empire.

In Now You See Me, Louis Leterrier (Danny the Dog, Transporter 2, Clash of the Titans) opts for a contemporary setting. This is a good excuse for a special effects extravaganza, while the screenwriters have managed to conjure up a logical script with a surprise twist.

The plot occasionally seems closer to a sci-fi flick than a heist movie, but Now You See Me manages to keep viewers interested without being annoying. A lot of credit for that goes to the actors in the main roles, including fresh faces who are supported by veterans such as Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.

J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg—The Social Network, Zombieland) performs card tricks for people in the street to make a living, enjoying the attention of female fans as a bonus. In his signature number, he asks a viewer to pick a card which is then magically displayed on a nearby skyscraper. Street “mentalist” and hypnotist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson—No Country for Old Men, Natural Born Killers) is a dab hand at street blackmail: he coaxes his victims into revealing intimate secrets and then promises to keep mum—in return for several hundred bucks. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher—Wedding Crashers, The Great Gatsby) is a performer whose act involves her being shackled and put in a piranha-infested tank, from which she makes a breathtaking escape. Finally, Jack Wilder (Dave Franco—21 Jump Street, Warm Bodies) is a nimble illusionist and a small-time crook who uses his skills to swipe onlookers’ wallets and watches. One day the four strangers receive mysterious, tarot-like cards with an invitation to a shabby apartment in New York City.

Flash forward one year and the street magicians have a new joint act, appearing as the Four Horsemen. We see them at a big, fancy venue in Las Vegas giving a stunning show that culminates in the robbery of a bank in... Paris. They make 3 million euros disappear from the bank’s vault, then shower the money down onto the heads of their audience. The stunt lands them in jail. The case is investigated by Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo—Collateral, Zodiac), an FBI agent who resentfully agrees to team up with agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent—Inglourious Basterds, Beginners) from the French Interpol office. But questioning the suspects takes the agents nowhere as the magicians mock the detectives to their faces.

Rhodes and Dray find an unexpected ally in Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman), a television show host who for decades has specialized in demystifying famous magic tricks. He apparently has some accounts to square with Arthur Tressler (Caine), the tycoon sponsoring the Four Horsemen shows. Bradley tells the detectives the Las Vegas stunt was just the first part of a three-episode “show of a lifetime” the Four Horsemen have planned and that there is also a mysterious Fifth Horseman who masterminded the entire heist.

The plot then moves to New Orleans and on to New York, where the final showdown takes place. That’s when we find out who has really mastered Atlas’s favorite axiom: “The first rule of magic: always be the smartest guy in the room.”
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