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Film: Now You See Me

Come in closer, because the more you think you see, the easier it'll be to fool you.

Now You See Me is a 2013 thriller-caper film directed by Louis Leterrier starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.

It is about a group of Robin Hood-style magicians called the Four Horsemen who use their illusions to steal money and give it to their audience despite the impossibility of it. As they become more infamous, an FBI agent and an Interpol detective chase after them.

Watch the trailer here.

Half-finished Character Page desperately needs more love.

Tropes applying to this film:

  • Alliterative Name: Merritt McKinney
  • Almost Kiss: Dylan and Alma, before they both quickly pull away and awkwardly tried to recover.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Eye, a group dating back to Ancient Egypt dedicated to protecting true magic and using it to "balance the scales of justice", are orchestrating the Four Horsemen's performances as a way to test them for membership. Dylan turns out to be a member, and by the end, the Horsemen are in.
  • And Starring: Michael Caine gets a "With" credit and Morgan Freeman gets an "And" credit
  • Anti-Villain: The Horsemen never harm any innocents, and the people they're stealing from have wronged many others in the past and indirectly caused the death of one man as well as cheating the family out of his inheritance.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Almost everyone, but J. Daniel Atlas and Jack Wilder are particularly epic, even if the former is possibly a stage name.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "First rule of magic — always be the smartest guy in the room."
    • Taking the twist into account, this makes the line doubly hilarious and doubly awesome, it's even lampshaded in the end reveal.
      • Taken to another level in the spanish dub: "The MAGICIAN is the smartest guy in the room". only that there are two magicians in the room
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Horsemen get away with everything, though their victims weren't exactly good guys either.
  • Batman Gambit: Most of their tricks, and magic in general, depend on being able to accurately predict how people will react and using that to their advantage. Merritt, the mentalist, in particular.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Bradley wanted fame and money. He got both (being framed for the heists and the Four Horsemen piling the money into his car) in the end, but not in the way he wanted.
  • Big Bad: Dylan Rhodes is the fifth Horseman.
  • Billing Displacement: Jesse Eisenberg gets top billing, but Mark Ruffalo's character has the biggest amount of screentime. But then, that might just be intentional misdirection.
  • Blunt Yes: This exchange between Rhodes and Bradley after the first heist:
    Rhodes: Really? Could you be anymore of a condescending ass?
    Bradley: Yes.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Hypnotizing someone to think they're performing in the Philharmonic upon hearing the word "bullshit".
    • "Freeze" "QUARTERBACK!"
    • Henley's weight.
    • The handcuff trick.
  • Call Back:
    • Nothing is ever locked.
    • I'll take that as a compliment.
  • The Chessmaster: Dylan. His main chess pieces never knew, either.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The rabbit trick that the Horsemen perform in their second show.
    • Just about everything they're shown doing that isn't part of their shows is setting up for one of them or outwitting the police. That bit where Daniel tries (and fails) reading Tressler? Clever ploy to get the answer to his security questions on his bank account.
    • "I can tell he has abandonment issues. Mommy? No, daddy."
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Lionel Shrike.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The teleporter appears to be this. It's just a disguised Trap Door leading to a room under the raised stage.
  • Complete The Quote Title: The film is about what you don't see and title is taken from the phrase for a common magician's trick; "Now you see me, Now you don't"
  • Complexity Addiction: The Four Horsemen's plans are insanely overcomplicated, given the simplicity of their true goals. This is part of the idea, though; the motive wasn't just simple robbery, but to make sure the ones being robbed knew who did it and couldn't prove how. Also realistic; many actual stage magicians use tricks that use insanely complicated procedures to produce relatively simple results because no one would believe anyone would go to that much trouble for a simple magic trick.
  • Death Dealer:
  • Decoy Protagonist: Contrary to what the advertising suggests, the Four Horsemen aren't the leads, Agent Dylan Rhodes is, though they (and Thaddeus Bradley, for that matter) are Deuteragonists. Taken to a new level when you learn that Dylan is the fifth Horseman.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Rhodes allows Bradley's framing to stand, possibly causing him to spend the rest of his life in jail, because Bradley ruined the career of Lionel Shrike (Rhodes' father), which led to an attempted comeback trick that went wrong, killing him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Each of the 4 Horsemen get a scene at the beginning showing their solo acts:
    • Daniel does a simple card trick on a large scale with a lot of planning ahead.
    • Henley does an underwater escape routine and dies... only to emerge from the crowd a few seconds later.
    • Merritt does a hypnotist act on a couple and uses his mentalist skills to extort some money from the husband.
    • Jack offers $100 to anyone who can see how he does his spoon trick, pays up... then makes off with the guy's wallet.
      • Averted later when the four characters are arrested and interrogated but we only see Daniel's and Merritt's interrogations.
  • Evil Versus Evil: On the one hand, the Eye are stealing money, and while they don't go out of their way to hurt people, many of their heists did put innocents at risk, particular the car chase, and the Fifth Horseman is just lashing out at anyone remotely connected to his father's death, regardless of their actual involvement. On the other hand, their targets aren't saints themselves, being the man who destroyed the Fifth Horseman's father's career, the insurance company that refused to pay out on Shrike life insurance, and the safe company whose sub-standard safe making played a role in Shrike's death.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Towards the end, Thaddeus mulls over how the Horsemen are still a step ahead of him and realizes that Dylan, who he's talking to, is the fifth Horseman.
    Thaddeus: I don't know who! But they had to have access to the warehouse. Plant the mirrors. Always a step ahead of me. And the FBI. Got past them not once, not twice, but consistently. Almost as if they were on the in—
  • Faking the Dead/Death Faked for You: Jack Wilder's death is faked with the assistance of the other Horsemen.
  • Film Felons: Larcenies are committed in full view of a paying audience. While this doesn't make the crimes easier to commit, it does mean that people will initially assume it's All Part of the Show. Plus, it broadcasts their attempts to enact justice, and enables them to avoid arrest since the FBI can't explain how they did it.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The film's tagline, "The closer you look, the less you'll see." What character does the film follow the most closely? Dylan, who it turns out is the fifth Horseman.
    • When Merritt's reading Rhodes, he mentions that he has "daddy issues" hinting at his being the Big Bad on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge
    • The Horsemen trick everyone into thinking Jack Wilder died in the car explosion. Now, who got the "death" tarot card at the beginning again?
    • Tarot knowledge also lets a bit more foreshadowing be known; the first card we see in the film is the seven of diamonds. The Suit of Pentacles represents material wealth; all the Asshole Victims in the film have Greed as at least one of their motivations. The seven of Pentacles itself represents reaching a new level or a prediction of future success, which in both cases is the prediction of the Four Horsemen.
    • Dylan being called The Fool. The Fool tarot often represents an innate cleverness hidden by an apparent foolishness, foreshadowing that he isn't as stupid as he seems.
    • You need five cards for a Tarot reading. The five cards are in order of appearance: King of Spades/Swords, Lovers, Hermit, High Preistess, Death. The hidden card is revealed to be the one hidden in backstory magic trick and is the last one that the Horsemen see so for them the reading is: Lovers, Hermit, High Preistess, Death, King of Spades/Swords.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
  • Gambit Roulette:
    • The Horsemen's scheme is planned down to the last detail all so that Dylan can get revenge on the people he holds responsible for his father's death.
    • One specific example is the "quarterback" hypnosis in the Horsemen's second show, which involved predicting the exact word to come out of Dylan's mouth (though "freeze" is a reasonable thing to expect a cop to shout at a fleeing suspect). Further justified and subverted when you realize Dylan was the one who planned the stunt in the first place.
  • Genre Blind: Agent Rhodes continually takes on the Horsemen on like regular criminals and keeps playing into their hands by refusing to think how a magician would. Or so everyone thinks, see Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: The Horsemen are smug jerks and thieves, but they're stealing from bad people. The only main characters who stand out as good guys are Dylan Rhodes and Alma Dray. Dylan ends up being the fifth Horseman and Alma is complicit when she finds out.
  • Hero Antagonist: Dylan Rhodes and Thaddeus Bradley, though the latter is a very nominal one. Subverted in Rhodes' case, as he turns out to be the Fifth Horseman.
  • Hypno Fool: Merritt specializes in creating these.
  • Improvised Weapon/Improbable Aiming Skills: When cornered by Rhodes, Jack Wilder fights him off first by flinging burning flash paper at him and, when that doesn't work, throwing playing cards.
  • Insufferable Genius: Just about everyone in the movie, though Atlas and Bradley stand out.
  • Ironic Echo: McKinney's deductions about Dylan.
  • It Has Been an Honor: The Horsemen say this to each other near the end.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: When the movie shifts to New Orleans for Act II, sure enough...
  • Jerkass: Just about everyone: Daniel Atlas, Merrit McKinney, Thaddeus Bradley, Arthur Tressler and Dylan Rhodes stand out.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: They're stage magicians who rob banks and give the money to their audience — all of whom have been defrauded in some way.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Arthur Tressler.
  • The Killer In Me: Dylan, the "hero" trying to catch the Four Horsemen, was actually the one planning their crimes the entire time.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Daniel's card trick in the opening is filmed from the perspective of the woman he's showing it to. Not only does she play into it, a large portion of the viewers are also going to end up picking the same card.
  • Leap of Faith: Discussed, as a condition for joining the Eye, and shown symbolically in the gang's last public trick where they jump off a building and turn into money. In truth, their leap of faith was in following the instructions given by their mysterious benefactor.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Depending on how you interpret the Eye protecting "true magic".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Averted for most of the movie with Henley (who got her start as an assistant, where part of her job was presumably to invoke this trope). For most of the movie, short skirts are her limit. Played straight in her introduction shot, which features her stripping into a glittery swimsuit for an escape act (justified, as the danger of the trick is more believable when she's more exposed/vulnerable).
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers make it look to be that these magicians are using highly advanced technology to pull off their crimes, even showing one of them using the "Teleporter". Where in the movie the teleporter is just a prop and it is done by someone in the audience. Though it is clear through the nature of the film this was intentional since everything (such as finding high tech plans) leading up to the teleporter in the first act heavily suggests that the trailer was true.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Big time. Rhodes is always one step behind the Four Horseman and is always outwitted by them. He's actually the Fifth Horseman, deliberately pretending to fall for all their tricks to make sure the authorities are always one step behind the Horsemen.
    • "The incompetence displayed in this investigation is a magic trick in and of itself..." - Yes it is.
  • Once More with Clarity: When Bradley explains how the Horsemen carried out their tricks.
  • Only in It for the Money: Averted, with the exception of Arthur Tressler. The Horsemen give away the money they steal, and Bradley is more interested in bolstering his ego (though he likes the money, too).
  • Piranha Problem: Henley's act at the beginning relies on the (in Real Life, exaggerated) danger posed by starving piranhas.
  • Plot Hole: They did a nice job of explaining how they pulled off the first bank heist from Vegas using flash paper leaving no trace. But they didn't explain how they would have ignited said flash paper. Something would have been left behind, disproving their "magic"
  • Posthumous Character: Lionel Shrike.
  • The Power of Acting: Dylan Rhodes is a expert at this. Everyone really believed he was an inept FBI agent.
  • Red Herring: Alma. Even she never knew Dylan was the Fifth Horseman.
    • It's repeatedly mentioned that, when Lionel Shrike died, they Never Found the Body, clearly teasing the possibility that he's still alive, and behind the whole thing. Turns out he's actually dead, but his son is still out there.
  • Refuge in Audacity: For their first show, the Four Horsemen rob a foreign bank from Las Vegas. When they're arrested, Daniel rightfully points out that they can't very well make the charges stick unless they're willing to admit magic is real. By the time they have an idea of how the Horsemen pulled it off, they've already been forced to release them and still can't actually prove their theory.
  • The Reveal: This being a movie about magic tricks, there are several Reveals, mainly pertaining to said magic tricks but including the tricks of Wilder's "death" and Rhodes's fake identity.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: All of the tricks are ways to get back at those that had destroyed Dylan Rhodes' father.
  • Secret Keeper: At the end, after finding out Dylan was the fifth Horseman, Alma locks the secret up and throws away the key.
  • Sequel Hook: The Stinger in the Blu-ray's extended cut where Danny, Merritt, Henley, and Jack drive to the Neon Museum to do their next act.
  • Ship Tease: With Danny and Henley, who were apparently involved at one point in the past; Henley actually got her start as a magician with a job as Danny's assistant. In their final scene, they join hands before hopping on the carousel.
  • Smug Snake/Smug Smiler: Daniel Atlas and Thaddeus Bradley both infuriate people for how smug they act. To be fair, though, their smugness is usually justified.
  • Stage Magician: The film stars a team of four stage magicians dubbed The Four Horsemen, who use their acts to rob banks. At least two seem to have an area of expertise, with Merrit being a talented hypnotist/mentalist and Jack being more of a conman in his skill set (primarily sleight-of-hand).
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: How the Fifth Horseman reveals himself to Thaddeus.
  • Tarot Motifs: The Eye first contacts the Horsemen by giving them tarot cards — The Lovers (Daniel), The High Priestess (Henley), The Hermit (Merritt), and Death (Jack). This extends to Dylan, the "fifth Horseman," who Thaddeus repeatedly calls 'The Fool' — particularly right before the big reveal. His actual card is the King of Swords. This represents him being a man with an idea, and not being afraid to hurt his victims.
  • The Man Behind the Man: You'd think that maybe Thaddeus is The Chessmaster behind the Four Horsemen, right? He's a former magician himself, and has a popular show that debunks magicians; what better disguise than to appear to be against them? Well, you're wrong. It's Dylan, the cop who was "chasing" them the entire time, and was actually using them for the ultimate purpose of framing Bradley.
  • Trigger Phrase: "Freeze!" and "Bullshit."
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Dylan shares his father's penchant for planning far, far in advance.
  • Twist Ending: Dylan was the mastermind.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Horsemen, and Dylan Rhodes at the end.
  • You Killed My Father: Dylan's main motivation, both for framing Thaddeus and for choosing all of the Four Horsemen's other targets, though none of them actually killed his father, who was responsible for his own death. Thaddeus exposed Lionel Shrike's magic act and humiliated him, causing him to attempt the trick that got him killed and Elkhorn manufactured the safe used in the trick which, due to the intentionally inferior materials and construction, warped after sinking into the water, trapping Lionel inside.

NebraskaFilms of the 2010sOblivion (2013)

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