Making the Grades
Making money magically appear is a trick all of us would like to learn. And it’s one a group of magicians, known as the Four Horseman, appear to have perfected.
Before they were the Four, each of these players was a small-time, independent performer with skills in hypnosis, pick pocketing, or illusions. Then J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) all receive a mysterious invitation to form an act that eventually brings them to Las Vegas. For that show’s finale, the conjurors rob a French bank while still on stage and share the money with the entire audience.
Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), the group’s sponsor, couldn’t be happier with their success. But FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) feels differently. Forced to take the case and work with Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent), Dylan can’t find enough evidence to hold the performers accountable, even though the French bank vault is empty. From that moment on, the illusionists become his bane.
The group also garners the attention of Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a reality television host who routinely debunks magicians and their tricks. While Dylan wants a quick solution to the stolen money problem, Thaddeus is happy to string along an ending in order to rake in more ratings and money.
Filled with enough glitz and dazzle to compete with any Las Vegas night show, Now You See Me glamorizes white-collar crime and offers a comeuppance aimed at the financially corrupt. Like other Robin Hood tales, there’s also an open disdain for the law, and the officers who enforce it. This arrogant attitude might be tolerable if there was some kind of consequences for the characters’ actions. But any hint of repercussions vanishes like smoke, making the depiction of stealing millions of dollars not only entertaining, but also downright enticing.
While a city center car chase, fiery crash and vicious fistfight make up most of the film’s physical violence, the movie also includes partially exposed breasts and a girl wearing only her underwear. The script contains a rude hand gesture, plentiful profanities and a smattering of vulgar and sexual expressions as well.
Setting up the trick takes special care if one hopes to fool his audience. But viewers may need to think twice to determine if this PG-13 rated movie’s script justifies its ending. With little to recommend when it comes to these characters’ criminal activities and patronizing posturing, Now You See Me is one film parents may prefer to have disappear from their teen’s must see list.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Now You See Me.
When a magician’s secrets are revealed, the magic disappears. How do they use deception and the art of distraction to keep audiences in the dark? Should some secrets be preserved? How do the padlocks on the Pont de l’Archevêché bridge in Paris represent secrets?
Who is deceived in this story? Do you like the deception of a magic show or do you prefer to know how each of the tricks is performed?
Is white-collar crime justified if the victims are corrupt themselves? Who has the right to decide when it is okay to steal from the rich to give to the poor? Do the characters’ arrogant attitudes make them more or less endearing? Does it take a certain kind of persona to be a successful magician?
Want to become a magician? Here are a few easy magic tricks you can learn.