With Now you see me 2 about to hit theatres, it seems appropriate to look back at the sleight-of-hand bank robbing original from 2013. But Does this film leave you wondering how they did it, or show its cards too soon? join Film an TV Nerd to find out.
The movie opens by introducing the four leads: a cocky street magician (Jesse Eisenberg); his former assistant (Isla Fisher), whose solo act focuses on gory stunts; a once-famous mentalist (Woody Harrelson) who’s been reduced to using cold reading and hypnosis to shake down people for cash; and a sleight-of-hand artist (Dave Franco) who moonlights as a pickpocket. A hoodie-wearing stranger slips each of them a Tarot card inscribed with a date and a New York address.
Flash forward to Las Vegas a year later, where the four now perform as a headlining act called the Four Horsemen. For their big finale, they present a complicated illusion where a random audience member appears to be teleported into the vault of his bank. The audience member is told to turn on the vault’s ventilation system, which sucks up a palette of Euros; a few seconds later, the bills rain down over the audience. The crowd goes wild.
The next day, the magicians are brought in for questioning by the FBI; it seems the audience member’s bank has been robbed, and a prop used in the magic act has been found at the scene. Soon, the magicians are being investigated by a surly agent (Mark Ruffalo) and an Interpol detective (Mélanie Laurent); they know the Four Horsemen are involved in the crime, but can’t figure out how.
Also on the Four Horsemen’s trail is a smug ex-magician (Morgan Freeman) who has made a fortune revealing the secrets behind well-known illusions. Freeman can make the clunkiest exposition sound good; for the most part, that’s what he’s here to do. Turning Freeman into the movie’s narrator is Now You See Me’s neatest trick, especially since much of the movie’s third act revolves around tweaking his all-knowing screen persona.
Now You See Me is proudly outlandish; the Four Horsemen’s methods — which involve giant mirrors, doubles, hypnosis, copious amounts of flash paper, and, holograms — are as logic-defying as their tricks. Had the movie ended by simply revealing that the four were wizards, it would just had been as amazing.
That, however, wouldn’t be as fun. Much of what makes Now You See Me so entertaining Vegas act sort of way, is its ever escalating ridiculousness. After the bank job, the Four Horsemen go on a series on ever more complicated heists, which turn them into fugitives and heroes. The movie, which began as “just” a bank-robbing magician story, eventually becomes full circle with conspiracies, secret identities, decades-old vendettas, and occult brotherhoods are involved.
The second half of the movie is effectively one long, protracted chase, with Ruffalo and Laurent always a few steps behind the Four Horsemen. It’s here that Leterrier seems to really be in his element; a lengthy fight scene where Franco fends off FBI agents using throwing cards and sleight-of-hand tricks in an enjoyable action sequence.
I still maintain that this is a very enjoyable film that was an unlikely hit grossing in excess of $375 at the box office.
So out of a possible five stars, Now you see me earns:
Will their next trick be even bigger their previous or will it equate to David Blane hanging in a box over the Thames….. We will just have to wait to see what’s up sleeves!
What did you think of this film?
Thank you for reading!