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Film / Now You See Me

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"Whatever is about to follow, whatever this grand trick is, is really going to amaze. Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you'll actually see."
Thaddeus Bradley

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

The film is about a group of Robin Hood-style magicians called the Four Horsemen, comprised of J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), a professional street magician who specializes in escalating card tricks; Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a hypnotist, mentalist and mind reader; Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), an escape artist; and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), a street artist, voice imitator and Master of Unlocking. They 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. A sequel, titled Now You See Me 2 was released in June, 2016. A second sequel, so far titled Now You See Me 3, has been announced in April 2020.

Half-finished Character Page desperately needs more love.

Don't confuse with the magician-centric Disney film, Now You See It....

Now You See Me provides examples of:

  • Agent Mulder: Interpol Agent Alma Dray is a downplayed example as she has a much more open mind about magic than her partner Dylan Rhodes but still wants to find out the real explanations to the tricks.
  • Agent Scully: FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes is quite skeptical about magic compared to his partner Alma Dray. Subverted, as he secretly is a magician himself and his attitude towards it is part of his façade.
  • Alliterative Name: Merritt McKinney.
  • Almost Kiss: Dylan and Alma, before they both quickly pull away and awkwardly try to recover.
  • Alone-with-Prisoner Ploy: Dylan sends the guards away so he can have his showdown with Bradley in his prison cell.
  • 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. At least that's Alma's theory. 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
  • Anonymous Benefactor: A mysterious benefactor brought the Four Horsemen together and gave them everything they needed. In the end, they find out it's federal Agent Rhodes who was pursuing them for most of the film.
  • Anti-Hero Team: The Four Horsemen do heroic acts in larcenous ways. They also have dark backstories and are motivated by revenge and jealousy.
  • Anti-Villain: The Four Horsemen at least believe they're Just Like Robin Hood, unaware that they are just patsies in Rhodes' revenge plot.
  • Arc Words: "The closer [you think] you are, the less you['ll actually] see."
  • Artifact Title: Consciously averted when referring to the Four Horsemen after Jack's (supposed) death; the remaining magicians, the FBI, and various newscasters all start referring to Daniel, Henley, and Merritt as simply "the Horsemen". Played straight when a few of the TV screens after their last escape still refer to them as the "4 Horsemen".
  • As Himself: Tressler gets an interview on Conan O'Brien's talk show after the Las Vegas show gains the Horsemen a lot of brand new publicity.
  • Asshole Victim: This is Merritt's whole schtick before the Horsemen. Find a couple on vacation, hypnotize the woman, expose the man's affair, get the man out of slap range, take a bribe, make the woman forget, and give the man an unpleasant mental image to stop the affair from continuing. It only works on people who deserve it.
  • 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 equivalent line is, "The MAGICIAN is the smartest guy in the room", and at this moment there are in fact 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.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Eventually happens between the two UST characters Dylan and Alma, at the Horsemen's third show.
  • Big "WHY?!": Bradley yells this when he found out Dylan is the Fifth Horseman, and that he's in jail because of him.
  • 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.
  • Buried Alive: Downplayed. Shrike's fatal backstory, where he got trapped in his safe at the bottom of the river, though we never get to see his dramatic struggle.
  • Call-Back:
    • Nothing is ever locked.
    • I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Calling Card: The Four Horsemen leave their signature card behind at the French Bank's vault.
  • Caper Rationalization: The immoral deeds of the Four Hoursemen are sold as sympathetic to the audience by making the characters act Just Like Robin Hood while picturing the victims of their crimes as bad people who had it coming.
  • Car Chase: Through NYC. It ends deadly for Jack Wilder. Or so you would think.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The mirror trick. First it's being used for the rabbit in the box, as explained by Bradley. We check it off, but then the same trick comes around again during the third heist at the Elkhorn warehouse.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The rabbit trick that the Horsemen perform in their second show.
    • Just about everything the Horsemen do that is not part of one of their shows is setting up for one of them or outwitting the police. For example, that bit where Daniel tries (and fails) reading Tressler? A cleverly disguised ploy to trick Tressler into giving them the answers to the "Forgot your password?" security questions on his bank account.
    • Lionel Shrike's trick of the card in the tree, and the briefly mentioned nearby carousel. At the end, it's where the Four Horsemen meet Dylan, who reveals himself to be the one behind everything and welcomes them to The Eye.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Lionel Shrike. He was mentioned early on by Bradley, but his importance only gets revealed much later in the story.
    • In Merritt's interrogation, Dylan goes through his career history. At one point, he mentions that Merritt had a good thing going until his brother/manager disappeared with all his hard-earned money, and since then Merritt's a long uphill battle to get back in the spotlight. Said brother, Chase, will show up in the sequel.
  • The Chessmaster: Dylan. His main chess pieces never knew, either.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The teleporter appears to be this. It's just an elaborately disguised Trap Door leading to a set that is a recreation of the Paris bank vault under the raised stage.
  • Cold Reading: Merritt guesses Henley's name right on their first encounter only to be exposed by Atlas who notes that the name was written on her coffee cup.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Hypno Fool Evans is mimicking a violin player, Cowan asks what this is, upon which Dylan answers: "I think it's Beethoven's Concerto in D-Major."
  • 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." "Now you don't" is actually seen (on a card in the apartment where the Horsemen meet) more-or-less immediately before the title screen.
  • 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. Which is also in line with stage magicians' M.O.: they 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.
  • Competence Porn: The film has hyper-competent magicians known as "The Four Horsemen" robbing and swindling corrupt businesses and giving their money to the everyday-folk of the world. Even when it seems like they've completely fallen into the villain's trap, the Unspoken Plan Guarantee swoops in at the last minute to show that everything had always gone according to their plan.
  • Control Freak: Discussed. Both Henley and Merritt believe Daniel to be this.
  • Death by Origin Story: Shrike's son avenging his father's death builds the framework for the plot.
  • Death Dealer: Jack uses his card throwing skills as an improvised weapon to distract Rhodes and get away.
  • 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.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Rhodes, who is introduced to us as the Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist, turns out to be the one pulling the strings.
  • Dramatic Irony: The scenes between Art Tressler and Thaddeus Bradley can be summarized as predicting their own downfalls.
    • Arthur brags that he has a huge bank account and threatens to "manacle" Thaddeus with so many injunctions. The Horsemen distributes Arthur's $140M bank account to the audience, revealed to be policyholders of Tressler's Insurance that were loopholed after Hurricane Katrina.
    • Thaddeus assures that Arthur is only a distraction for the final act, and tells him that his ego is blinding him to the truth. The third act's prime target is Thaddeus Bradley himself, and Dylan tells him that his ego (in his case, about being smart enough to stay one step ahead) blinded him to the truth.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Dylan is drowning his sorrows in a bar after he failed to capture the Horsemen at their second show.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The reveal of Dylan Rhodes actually being the mastermind behind the Horsemen changes literally everything about the movie.
  • Escape Artist:
    • Henley Reeves in her opening act escaping from the water tank.
    • Lionel Shrike was killed trying to restore his reputation with a bigger and better escape act.
  • 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 expose a husband's dirty secrets and then blackmail the guy into paying him to make his wife forget all about them.
    • Jack offers $100 to anyone who can see how he does his spoon trick, pays up... then makes off with the guy's wallet. And wristwatch.
    • Averted later when the four characters are arrested and interrogated, but we only see Daniel's and Merritt's interrogations.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Invoked for Jack's car accident. The fire and explosion disfigured the corpse so it would pass off as Jack's corpse.
  • 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—
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: One comes up during Tressler's interview on Conan O'Brien.
    Conan O'Brien: Remember, if the oxygen mask comes down, put it on the lawyer first. Remember.
    Arthur Tressler: Oh, yes. I always do. It's the lawyer first, then myself, and then the children.
  • Faking the Dead: 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.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: Alma gets hold of a car by flashing her badge to the owner, pretending to be an FBI agent. It works and she and Dylan can start their Car Chase with Jack Wilder.
  • Flipping the Bird: Merrick to Atlas when they first meet.
  • Floating in a Bubble: One of the tricks the Horsemen do in the film has Henley floating over the audience in a bubble.
  • 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.
    • Not one related to the main twist, but Bradley is introduced noticeably using a phone to record the Horsemen's show, being forced to give that up and only then revealing the camera he actually uses to film. This is the same kind of misdirection magicians use, hinting at his training as one of them, and the fact he knows the tricks.
    • 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?
      • Also, a very basic knowledge about tarots is that the card Death does not represent death, but change. An early hint that the death is actually fake.
    • 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.
    • Jack's introduction foreshadows a lot of his role in the plot. First, he is not introduced as a magician, but as a thief, with his goal being picking pockets and not the performance, plus he is the one that picks the lock on the door (Merritt does blackmail his audience, but it's still during the performance itself). His con also relies on being found out and exposed. He is the one of the four that is discovered by the police, he pretends to fail at escaping, and he is the one stealing from the vault while the other three go on with the act.
    • Speaking of introductions, the first four tricks revealed (misdirection by making you look too close, a fake death, having your secrets exposed and a theft) sum up the plot of the movie.
    • You need five cards for a Tarot reading. The five cards are in order of appearance: King of Spades/Swords, Lovers, Hermit, High Priestess, 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 Priestess, Death, King of Spades/Swords.
    • During Bradley and Tressler's confrontation, the latter is playing with a Voodoo Doll upon which Bradley comments "... one who uses a doll to enact one's own wrath, is likely to bring that very wrath unto himself." Later Tressler is indeed being punished for his corruption.
    • Bradley and Rhodes discuss the role of the magician's assistent. Rhodes says that his role is to distract the attention from the actual trick, while Thadeus smugly remarks that instead she is the one doing the actual work, hinting that his interpol partner might be connected to the Horsemen. This works on two levels: on the first, Rhodes is basically admitting that she is a distraction while he is the mastermind, with Bradley being too self-satisfied to notice. On another layer, the Horsemen can be considered the assistants to Rhodes in the scheme, and Bradley spends the movie following them and believing them to be doing the hard work while Rhodes is the one pulling the strings. Rhodes will also be the one performing the actual trick on Bradley: framing him and putting him in jail for life.
    • Dylan's superior's sarcastic remark that the amount of help Dylan's incompetence has been to the Horsemen is like a magic trick in itself.
    • Dylan being able to tell exactly what his hypnotized superior is pretending to play hints that he knows a lot more about what's going on than he is telling.
    • Alma's explanation of Lionel Shrike's trick of the card encased in glass in a 20-year old tree, and how you have to be able to look far into the past to deduce how it was done. In the same way, you only understand the motivation behind everything that the Horsemen do and everyone they target if you look far enough back — to Lionel Shrike's death, specifically.
    • The complex broadcasting setup of the third show only has three cameras, placed in pefect triple symetry. The Horsemen had planned way ahead that Jack would not be there. Dray too notices this when her eyes linger on the setup, but she doesn't have the time to bring it up.
    • During his interrogation, Daniel Atlas smugly tells Dylan that the first rule of magic is to be the smartest one in the room. Turns out, Dylan really was the smartest one in that room, being the mastermind behind everything.
  • Frameup: Bradley is being put behind bars — possibly for life — for a crime he hasn't committed.
  • Foil: Thaddeus to the FBI though the tables turn towards the end.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • If one were to slow down the opening card trick, it's clear what Atlas does to force the girl (and likely the viewer) to pick the seven of diamonds: several cards in a row are duplicates, so the seven of diamonds is visible for a lot longer than the other cards.
    • When the Horsemen first meet in the NYC apartment and see the holographic schematics, the name TRESSLER briefly appears.
    • When the trick of how the money disappeared from the bank is explained, the flash-paper used is an origami rabbit, complete with drawn-on eyes, nose and whiskers.
    • In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment of the extended release, there's a moment in the scene after Jack drops the tracker on Dylan, where a woman pulls her shirt up, revealing her breasts.
  • 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: 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. Once you've seen the ending twist, the trope is subverted. 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.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: The Eye, an ancient order of magicians dedicated to "balancing the scales of Justice", and who direct the actions of the Four Horseman throughout. More specifically Dylan Shrike as the Fifth Horseman.
  • Handshake Refusal: When Merritt meets Daniel and Henley for the first time. Daniel offers his hand to Merritt, who starts to accept then suddenly flips him a middle finger instead.
  • Hot on His Own Trail: This amusingly happens to Rhodes in which he ends up tracking himself through New Orleans when Jack drops the tracker into his pocket.
  • Hypno Fool: Merritt specializes in creating these.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Downplayed twice.
    • Merritt is playing a French Policeman stopping the money truck as showing in Bradley's Unfolding Plan Montage.
    • Jack is quickly shown wearing a Policeman outfit at Mardi Gras, which probably helped him to move around faster.
  • Impossible Thief: The Four Horsemen pull some stunning heists that keep the police dumbfounded. Fortunately, they had Bradley explain how it's done.
  • Impossibly Awesome Magic Trick: Several of them are analyzed and explained but a lot of them are not, and the ending makes it a case of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
  • Improvised Weapon: 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.
  • Infraction Distraction: Thaddeus Bradley pulls this trick during the first show when he pretends to film the act with his mobile phone which then gets confiscated by the security guard. Bradley continues filming with his second camera.
  • Inspector Lestrade: Dylan. His own deduction skills are not good enough for this case, so he seeks help from Bradley.
  • Insufferable Genius: Just about everyone in the movie, though Atlas and Bradley stand out.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • When Thaddeus refers to the Horsemen as "[coming] a long way from a bunch of wannabes and has-beens", Merrit immediately thanks him for referring to him as a "has-been" due to considering himself a "never-was".
    • When Merritt calls Dylan a Control Freak.
      Henley: It doesn't take a mentalist to figure that out. You are a control freak.
      Daniel: Well, I take that as a compliment.
      Henley: Only he would take it as a compliment.
      Daniel: Okay, great. Good. Another compliment.
  • In the Hood:
    • As we later learn, Dylan is the hooded guy observing the Horsemen in the beginning.
    • Also, Jack Wilder is wearing a hood right before his Dramatic Unmask when Bradley explains the Elkhorn warehouse caper.
  • Invisible Writing: The Horsemen's New Orleans show seems to use some form of Invisible Ink which shows up under a flashlight.
  • Involuntary Charity Donation: The Four Horsemen crack Arthur Tressler's bank account and give it to the Hurricane Katrina victims his company had stiffed on insurance claims.
  • 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... Justified in that the heist would be planned for that time, to ensure a thick crowd to hide in.
  • 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.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Dylan pulls one off on Thaddeus.
  • 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 — specifically because the deck is designed to force the viewer to pick the seven of diamonds; there are multiple seven of diamond cards placed in a row, so when he flips it slowly the seven is visible much longer than the rest of the cards are.
  • 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.
  • Leno Device: Conan O'Brien appears on his talk show and interviews Tressler via Skype.
  • Lovely Assistant: Henley used to be this for Daniel, but they parted on bad terms and she left to start her own solo act as an Escape Artist.
  • Magician Detective: The movie is about stage magicians who work grand thefts into their act... forcing investigators to find out how the hell they manage their tricks so they can actually prove it. Thaddeus Bradley, skeptic magician debunker, is not himself a detective, but he is called in as a consultant by the investigators.
  • 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.
  • Master of Unlocking: Jack Wilder, as demonstrated when he unlocks the door to the mysterious apartment in the beginning. Same way as he opens the gate to the park at the end.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Depending on how you interpret the Eye protecting "true magic".
  • Memento MacGuffin: The wristwatch Dylan mentions early on as being a family heirloom. He later explains that it belonged to his father who gave it to him before performing his final trick.
  • Mobstacle Course: Dylan bumps into a lot of people in the street during the foot chase after the second show. It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans for a reason.
  • 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).note 
  • Never Found the Body: Lionel Shrike's body was never found which opened up the possibility of him entering the story at some point.
  • 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, in time with them and deliberately pretending to fall for all their tricks to make sure the real 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.
    • When the identity of the Fifth Horseman is revealed, we get shots of the hooded figure scoping them out at the beginning, this time with the face visible.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: Uttered by Bradley, when mocking Dylan over the phone: "Keep up, Agent Rhodes. Keep up."
  • The Oner: When the Four Horsemen are first seen in their show in Las Vegas, there's a minute-long shot by a drone camera hovering around the stage and audience as the Horsemen announce their final stunt of the evening, using magic to rob a bank. The shot ends with the camera closing in on Bradley in the audience.
  • 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).
  • Orbital Shot: Several times during the movie does the camera circle around the heroes in fast pace.
  • Outrun the Fireball: When Jack's car explodes on the bridge, the agents manage to run from the fireball but still get Blown Across the Room by the blast.
  • Pay Evil unto 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's life insurance, and the safe company whose sub-standard safe making played a role in Shrike's death.
  • Perp Walk: The Four Horsemen (and their bags as per Henley's request) are walked out through the hotel lobby casino by the FBI. Subverted by the fact that they are smiling and nodding to the cheering and applauding fans. They would probably even be waving if they weren't handcuffed.
  • Phony Psychic: McKinney, though he is quite open about the techniques he is using.
  • Pick a Card: Several of them:
    • Daniel's opening scene, where the girl picks a card — and Daniel makes it appear in lights on the side of the John Hancock Center.
    • During a plane trip, Alma tries it with Dylan, and fails as the selected card winds up in the lap of the guy next to her.
    • During their show in New Orleans, Jack has someone pick a card. Once a card is selected, he has another audience member hold a pen up. He shoots the cards at the person in the audience, with the selected card impaling on the pen.
  • 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.
  • Race Against the Clock: For Henley's opening water tank escape act, they placed a giant clock on the stage so the audience could to see the seconds ticking down.
  • Red Herring:
    • While the Horsemen are scrambling on realizing the FBI's gotten ahead of them, we get a brief shot of one of their "recruitment" Tarot cards — specifically, XIII Death, which was Jack's recruitment card. Given the pre-existing overuse of Death as cheap doomy foreshadowing, it's easy to believe that Jack dies in the ensuing car chase.
    • 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.
  • Running Gag: Fuller catches so much flack, deliberate or incidental, during the fight with Jack Wilder that it probably rates as this.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Done by Tressler as a condescending gesture when meeting up with Bradley for the first time.
  • Secret-Keeper: At the end, after finding out Dylan was the fifth Horseman, Alma locks the secret up and throws away the key.
  • Sensor Suspense: During the Chase Scene after the second show, when Dylan uses the tracker device to follow Daniel through the streets of New Orleans. He ends up chasing himself.
  • 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: Danny and Henley were apparently involved at one point in the past; Henley got her start as a magician with a job as Danny's assistant. In their final scene, they ambiguously join hands before hopping on the carousel. A couple of the deleted scenes emphasized their connection further, but also leaned more on Danny's awkwardness and emotional unavailability. The sequel seems to confirm their relationship after the fact given Lula's wording when mentioning Henley leaving and Danny's reaction, but it is never made explicit.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The first scene — Henley drowning in a water tank while a bystander tries to break the tank with a metal bar but fails — is obviously an homage to a similar scene in The Prestige. Indeed, the similarities go on, from the dueling illusionists, decades-long plots to avenge a loved one's death, mysterious benefactors, right down to Michael Caine.
    • When Morgan Freeman says, "These bars give a man time to think..." He says the same line in The Shawshank Redemption.
    • In the scene before J. Daniel Atlas and Merritt McKinney enter the secret room, McKinney tells Atlas that he is a "bit of a Control Freak," to which Atlas replies "Have we met before?" This is a nod to the previous film Harrelson and Eisenberg had starred in, Zombieland.
  • 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 Merritt being a talented hypnotist/mentalist and Jack being more of a conman in the field of sleight-of-hand.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Behind Bradley's back, Dylan magically transports from being inside the cell to the outside.
  • The Stinger: The Blu-Ray release adds a scene half-way through the closing credits, showing the four horsemen arrive in the desert at a junkyard for old signs from Las Vegas.
  • Stolen by Staying Still: The Horsemen steal a safe by using a large-scale version of a standard vanishing trick to make it appear that the safe is already gone, and laying a false trail that the police chase off after, allowing the Horsemen to remove the safe at leisure.
  • Sweeping the Table: Downplayed. The detectives remove a vase from a table in order to place their printouts and files on it for a rushed Mission Briefing.
  • Taken Off the Case: Agent Rhodes is taken off the "Four Horsemen case" after having failed repeatedly to get hold of the protagonists and even having unwittingly helped them getting access to classified information. It's later revealed that Rhodes himself was the villain and faked his ineptness to let the Horsemen accomplish their goals.
  • 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.
  • That Poor Car: During the Chase Scene through New Orleans nightlife, Dylan is stepping on several cars, triggering their car alarms.
  • Three-Act Structure: Each of the Horsemen's "acts" essentially work as Title Cards for the story's own three acts (Setup, Conflict, Climax).
  • Trash Landing: When Agent Rhodes is chasing Jack Wilder down the garbage disposal shaft, they both land safely on some garbage bags.
  • Trigger Phrase: Shouting "Freeze!" leads to twelve people tackling you because they think you're the quarterback, and saying "Bullshit" will cause the person who hears it to suddenly think they're playing in a philharmonic orchestra.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Dylan shares his father's penchant for planning far, far in advance.
  • Twist Ending: Dylan was the mastermind.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage: Twice in the movie, Bradley explains in images how the Four Horsemen managed to pull of their tricks. First he describes how the caper for the money from the French Bank worked out and later again for the Elkhorn money caper.
  • Villain-by-Proxy Fallacy: The Fifth Horseman's plan involves taking revenge on everyone who played a part in his father's death. He uses the Four Horsemen to get his revenge. This includes stealing money from the man who cheated his family out of insurance money and framing the man who drove Shrike to his comeback for robbing a bank.
  • Walking Spoiler: Dylan Rhodes. Knowing pretty much anything about him beyond what you see in the trailers ruins the film's big twist.
  • 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, and Tressler Insurance, which refused to pay out the coverage on Shrike's life-insurance policy because no-one could procure Lionel's body.


Video Example(s):


The Four Horsemen

Thaddeus Bradley explains how the Four Horsemen robbed a bank in Paris from a stage in Las Vegas.

How well does it match the trope?

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