Now You See MeThe Hand Or The Eye
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine and Melanie Laurent
Director: Louis Leterrier
Script: Boaz Yakin
Composer: Brian Tyler
Summit Entertainment
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 115 minutes
Magicians come and go and a good magician is hard to find. This film, not widely advertised, combines sly humor with a sense of urgency, visual treats for the eyes and a story that intrigued me, though the clues were right there. That's the trick of an illusionist, it's right in front of you, but you can't see it. The ensemble cast of four, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson, appear in the film as The Four Horsemen. They don't exactly work on the side of the law and the cops right behind them are Mark Ruffalo (federal agent) and Melanie Laurent (Interpol.) Who can you trust in this story? Certainly not your eyes.
Now to present day. The film opens with four magicians, Jesse, Isla, Woody and Dave doing their individual acts. They seem knowledgeable, but rough around the edges. Someone sends them secret messages about doing three things that will make them famous and rich, if they bill themselves as "The Four Horseman." Isla is an escape artist, Dave is a pickpocket, Woody "reads minds" and Jesse does magic tricks. Jesse is the spokesman for the group and though he presents himself as bumbling, he is, as he likes to say, "The smartest person in the room." Together they are a force to reckon with. Fast forward and they are a top Vegas act, but moving on to other things. The acts are spectacular from making someone disappear to appearing to read minds. No one can find out how they do it. A federal agent (Ruffalo) and Interpol agent (Laurent) are suspicious of them and their benefactor, Michael Caine. Enter Morgan Freeman, a magic debunker, and there is quite a mix to take The Four Horsemen down. The pace quickens.
Now You See Me gives the audience some information on how magic tricks are done. It boils down to, what you think is happening in front of you, may be happening behind you, instead. Fooling people is what The Four Horsemen do for a living and they are experts. Jesse Eisenberg is probably the best as a person who confuses with words, and Woody Harrelson as the "mind reader," is the second. Can he really do it? Dave Franco is a pleasant surprise in his action acting role and comes into his own, while Isla Fisher works well with the boys.  Melanie Laurent is miscast as the Interpol agent. I am not fond of having a female star in a major role stand there and smile all the time. Michelle Rodriguez  would have been a better choice. Michael Caine is nicely arrogant with his money while Morgan Freeman is nicely arrogant with his debunking theories. However, nothing is as it seems. Placing a studio guest into the vault of his Paris bank in an instant and having him transport the bank's money elsewhere is just one of the tricks shown. Wonder what the Federal Reserve would think of that.
The trailers for this film make you think the group are Robin Hoods in that they steal money and give it back to the poor. Don't believe everything---that may be 5% of the film and the rest may be illusion, chase, and outwit. What is really going on is right in front of you, if you can pick up the bread crumbs left as a trail. I missed a few.
I appreciated the film for the knowledge of the work of magicians, friendship and revenge. Three things that can bind magicians or separate them. The group looks cool under pressure and there is quite a car chase here, too. Now You See Me has something for everyone.
By the way, if you do appreciate magicians and tricks, try earlier films, both of 2009, The Illusionist with Edward Norton and Jessica Biel, is a love story. My favorite, The Prestige with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as competing magicians, is a film of hate. Both films are set about 1900. Steve Carell's recent The Inredible Burt Wonderstone isn't in their league.
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