There will be spoilers in this. So many spoilers. So nobody read it.
Now You See Me centres around four magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson and Isla Fischer) who are brought together by an anonymous figure who recruits them by leaving tarot cards at their shows. These four become the Four Horsemen (sexist, because one of them’s a girl). The Horsemenandwomen then create an enormous, hyperbolic stage-show at the MGM Grand in New York, where they ‘teleport’ a random audience member into a bank vault in France, then proceed to steal €3 million from said vault and shower the audience with it. Now, you may or may or not know that robbing banks is, in fact, illegal. The Horsemen promise two more shows, each one bigger than the last, with the third containing the ultimate trick. So in come our other main characters;
- Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) – The two FBI agents tasked with stopping the magicians.
- Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) – a former magician who now makes a living disproving other magicians (rude).
- Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) an insurance magnate who bankrolls the Four Horsemen’s enormo-shows.
The tricks in the film are very impressive, but seeing magic in a film is a weird one. Obviously when you see a magic trick up close and in real life, you know it’s all fakery and deception but you still end up in a sobbing heap because you can’t work out just happened. In a film, though, it doesn’t translate so well because the guys doing the tricks are Mark Zuckerberg, James Franco’s little brother, the man from The Hunger Games and a woman from The OC.
The showmen prove that they are several steps ahead of everyone else by taking from the pocket of their very own benefactor, Arthur Tressler. After bringing him on stage in New Orleans with a giant cheque showcasing his multi-million dollar bank balance, the figure on the cheque starts to decrease, as the bank balance of the members of the audience goes in the oppposite direction. It turns out that everyone in the audience was a victim of Hurricane Katrina, and they were given the short shrift by their insurance company, Tressler Insurance.
The film is 2 hours of the four magicians trolling the shit out of Officer 5 O’Clock Shadow. Just as he thinks he’s caught them, it turns out he definitely hasn’t. But he makes it really easy for them. He handcuffs Jesse Eisenberg at the police station and interrogates him, but ends up being handcuffed to the table himself. He tries to arrest the magicians on stage, but he gets tackled by audience members who are hypnotised to tackle the first person to yell ‘freeze!’. Dave Franco escapes from his clutches by flicking playing cards at his face. He places a tracking bug on one of the magicians but by the end of the chase it turns out the bug was on himself. He stops them stealing an enormous safe full of money, but when he opens it it’s full of balloons.
The ending. The fucking ending. The galling, infuriating ending. After being enlisted to foil the Horsemen, Thaddeus Bradley sees them perform their final trick and escape the police by the skin of their teeth. He returns to his car, only to find it full of stolen money and surrounded by police cars. After being placed in a cell, he is visited by Super Intendent Cliché, whereupon he offers “vital information” in exchange for his release. He details how the Horsepeople stole all their money and evaded capture, but insists there is a 5th Horseperson. Someone who made sure they were never going to be caught. It had to be someone on the inside. It’s Dray, isn’t it? The Interpol officer who was suddenly dropped into this case, her first case away from the desk. The swine. It’s her. What? It isn’t her? Then who is it?
DYLAN! IT WAS DYLAN! DYLAN! THE MAN WHO IS PORTRAYED AS THE BAD GUY FROM THE 3RD MINUTE OF THE FILM WITHOUT ANY BACK STORY OR INTRODUCTION OR ANYTHING IS ACTUALLY THE GOOD GUY! HE SPENT ALL THAT TIME, MONEY AND POLICE WORK CHASING THEM BUT HE WASN’T REALLY CHASING THEM BECAUSE HE WAS THE ANONYMOUS MAN! ISN’T THAT A GREAT ENDING? ISN’T IT?! HELLO?!
Dylan and Dray (he hated her before, but guess what, they’re together now) meet in Paris. Dylan explains everything to her, and she (she’s still an Interpol officer by the way) just decides she’s not going to arrest him for the gigantic robbery he planned and all the actual bullshit he’s just put the FBI (and me) through.
I was genuinely enjoying this film until the end. The promise of the uber-trick was exciting and the constant police fuck ups were entertaining. There were moments of revelation and genuine surprise, and the Four Horsemen are all very likeable characters, especially Jesse Eisenberg. But the ‘twist’ was just preposterous. You just can’t do that. Imagine watching Midsomer Murders and then it turns out all of the murders were by John Nettles.