Now You See Me (I) (2013)
An F.B.I. Agent and an Interpol Detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances, and reward their audiences with the money.
Four magicians each answer a mysterious summons to an obscure address with secrets inside. A year later, they are the Four Horsemen, big time stage illusionists who climax their sold-out Las Vegas show with a bank apparently robbed for real. This puts F.B.I. Agents Dylan Rhodes and Interpol Agent Alma Dray on the case to find out how they did it. However, this mystery proves to be difficult to solve, even with the insights of professional illusion exposer Thaddeus Bradley. What follows is a bizarre investigation where nothing is what it seems to be, with illusions, dark secrets, and hidden agendas galore as all involved are reminded of a great truth in this puzzle: the closer you look, the less you see.
Small-time magicians Daniel Atlas, Merritt McKinney, Henley Reeves, and Jack Wilder are invited to attend a meeting in a weird apartment. One year later, they reappear as The Four Horsemen in a show in Las Vegas sponsored by the millionaire Arthur Tressler, and they heist a bank in Paris from the stage, and distribute the money to the audience. F.B.I. Agent Dylan Rhodes is assigned to the case and Interpol sends agent Alma Dray to be his partner. Dylan and Alma are completely lost in the investigation, and exposer of illusionists Thaddeus Bradley gives hints about illusion. When the Four Horsemen steal the bank account of Arthur Tressler during a show in New Orleans, Dylan and Alma believe that these heists are only a distraction for a huge scheme, but they are never sure about of what is true, and what is illusion.
Four down-on-their-luck magicians are brought together by an anonymous person who gives them the blueprints to a great illusion. A year later, they call themselves "The Four Horsemen", and the finale of their show is that they will rob a bank. The bank they choose to rob is in France, and they do it. The incident is brought to the attention of the F.B.I., so they assign Agent Dylan Rhodes to investigate. Alma Vargas, an Interpol Agent comes to help Rhodes, which he doesn't like. They turn to Thaddeus Bradley, a former magician, who exposes magic as simple trickery. Bradley shows them how they did it, but still not enough to give Rhodes grounds to arrest them. So they follow them and they pull another stunt, which makes Rhodes think that they're part of a plot to get back at certain people.
A team of talented illusionists called "The Four Horsemen" (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco) are investigated by a resolute F.B.I. Agent (Mark Ruffalo) following a series of brazen heists that leave their audiences swimming in cash while draining the bulging bank accounts of unscrupulous business leaders.
- We open with J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) demonstrating a card trick to us, as he explains, "Come in close. Closer. Because the more you think you see, the easier it will be to fool you. Because what is seeing? You're looking but what you're really doing is filtering, interpreting, searching for meaning. My job: to take that most precious of gifts you give me - your attention - and use it against you."
Chicago, Monday: Daniel is a street performer in Chicago. He is shown doing a card trick to an attractive young girl. The seemingly typical card tricks climax in the side of the John Hancock Center somehow reflecting his card. The performance is being watched by a mysterious hooded man whose face is never seen.
Afterwards, the attractive girl, who turns out to be a big fan of Daniel, charms him into taking her to his apartment for sex. Before they can begin, though, he is distracted by the discovery of a "Lovers" tarot card. On one side of the card is the text "March 29th; 4:44 PM, 45 East Evan Street, NY, NY."
New Orleans, Tuesday:
At a restaurant, we meet Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a street mentalist and hypnotist. He demonstrates his act on a married couple. First, he hypnotizes the wife so she can't speak or move, while he gets under the brain of husband, and through his mind reading exposes the man as an adulterer who is sleeping with his wife's sister. Merritt then fleeces the man out of $250 before hypnotizing them into "forgetting" the matter. While he's packing up his posters, he finds a "Hermit" tarot card.
New York, Wednesday:
On a New York City ferry boat, we meet Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), a street con artist and magician who lures in customers by betting them money if they can figure out how he bends a spoon with his mind. One correctly guesses it, and Wilder successfully pays him, only to pickpocket the guesser's wallet. He then flees, bumping into the mystery hooded man, who slips a "Death" tarot card into Wilder's coat pocket.
Los Angeles, Thursday:
At a theatre downtown, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is a trained stage performer. She finishes off her act with a water tank escape act in which she seemingly is eaten alive by flesh-eating piranhas, only to emerge alive and well in the middle of the crowd seconds after the water turns a bloody red. As she packs up her supplies, she finds a "High Priestess" tarot card floating in the tank.
The four street performers each travel to New York City, arriving at a rundown apartment on the Lower East Side. Daniel and Henley are surprised when they see each other, as Henley is Daniel's former personal assistant, and Merritt is able to mind-read that they used to date. While Merritt and Henley complain about Daniel's controlling personality, Jack arrives date and introduces himself as Daniel's fan. He is able to pick the lock of the apartment they have been invited to, but no one is inside. Instead they discover the blueprints of some amazing machinery that they know could help propel them to stardom.
Las Vegas, One Year Later: One year later, the four magicians have declared themselves an official troupe known as "The Four Horsemen" and are now sponsored by insurance magnate Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). They are performing onstage at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. For their final trick, they declare that they are going to do something that has never been done before on any magic stage: they are going to rob a bank. The crowd is very enthusiastic, and there are a large number of volunteers who seem to have a vendetta, so Daniel declares that they are going to select a volunteer at random. Merritt, Henley and Wilder go around with bowls of ping pong balls to allow the audience to make the selection. Wilder tosses Daniel a ping pong ball with a letter B, which tells them which section to choose a volunteer from. Merritt then tosses a '5' ball, to give them a row to choose from, and lastly, Henley tosses a '13' ball, and the man seated in seat B513, a Frenchman named Etienne Forcier (Jose Garcia), stands up.
Etienne says on the mike that his bank is the Credit Republican de Paris. While Etienne is making his way to the stage, Daniel takes the time to point Tressler out in the crowd and express the Horsemen's gratitude towards him for sponsoring them. On stage, Etienne is briefed by Merritt, while Wilder fits him out with a teleportation helmet. Daniel then hands Etienne a set of playing cards, and has him pick a card at random. He then has Etienne sign his name in English on the card he chose (a red two of hearts).
The troupe now conjures a teleporter in the middle of the stage. They have Etienne climb onto the platform. Merritt reminds Etienne that it's 11:50 PM now in Las Vegas and 8:50 AM in Paris, so his bank will be opening in about ten minutes. They then activate the teleporter, and Etienne seemingly is successfully teleported off the stage.
In Paris, at the exact same moment, to be precise, Etienne stands up in the vault of his bank. Video cameras built into the helmet and a microphone allow him to communicate with the Las Vegas stage. He sees a big pile of money in the middle of the room, approximately three million euros worth. Daniel instructs Etienne to put the card he just signed on the floor in the middle of the money pile, along with his ticket stub from the performance. He then tells Etienne to push a button on the side of his helmet. The button activates an air duct that vacuums up the entire pile of money.
Moments later, bank employees arriving for work at that bank open the vault and discover the safe is indeed empty, with only the card and ticket stub on the floor. Meanwhile, their money is being showered on the Las Vegas crowd.
FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is called to investigate the theft and is partnered with Interpol Agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent). Alma has already deemed interrogation useless, but Dylan decides to do the interviews himself. Etienne insists on his innocence and sincerely believes he was transported to France, but it is soon discovered he had been hypnotized, after Etienne suddenly acts like he's in a philharmonic orchestra upon hearing Dylan say the word "Bullshit".
They interrogate the Four Horsemen next, Jack is at ease enough to sleep, while a bored Henley "magically" makes her opposite chair spin. Merritt turns the interview against them, pointing out the secrets that Alma is hiding and how Dylan has abandonment issues, likely because of his father (important later in the film). Daniel's interview creates the most tension, as he taunts Dylan with the fact that the police have no proof and that the Four Horsemen will always be ahead. Unable to arrest them when the only explanation they have for the theft is "magic", the police are forced to release their suspects.
While Dylan stews over this, an officer runs up to him and eagerly tells him that one of the audience members was Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman)--an ex-magician who makes money by revealing the secrets behind other magicians' tricks, Thaddeus had actually recorded the show and figured out how the heist was done. He takes the police back to the stage, where he puts Dylan through the volunteer audience member's position and explains how the man was "transported" to Paris. The Four Horsemen stole the money weeks before, and manipulated the audience into believing it happened in real time. The "French" bank vault to which Etienne was apparently transported was a duplicate beneath the stage: he merely dropped through a trapdoor. And Etienne himself was not chosen at random: the magicians had palmed ping pong balls with his seat number which they exchanged for the ones picked from the bowls.
This was only the start, as Thaddeus knew there was more coming and warns Dylan to be prepared for the magicians' next performance in New Orleans. Dylan asks Thaddeus to help the police arrest the four, but Thaddeus refuses and leaves. As Thaddeus prepares for his next video, Arthur Tressler approaches and tries to bribe him into staying out of the Four Horsemen's rise to fame. Again Thaddeus refuses, and Arthur threatens to bring the ex-magician to ruin. Arthur's demonstration of the threat however has Thaddeus warning him instead to be careful as it may be Arthur who will be ruined.
The press is soon reporting the sold out show for the Four Horsemen's debut in New Orleans. Perhaps made aware of Thaddeus's presence, the magicians demonstrate the secret of the common disappearing rabbit trick. They then move to original stunts, including soap bubbles strong enough to send Henley flying through the air and Merritt hypnotizing twelve ordinary people to believe they are football players ready to tackle the quarterback upon hearing the command "freeze". For the finale they invite Arthur on stage and empty his bank account, distributing it to the audience that comprises people whose insurance claims had been denied or reduced by his company. The excited yells from audience members receiving alerts from their banks about the deposit draws chaos.
Arthur tries to go after the magicians, only to find himself chained to the stage. Dylan runs up the stage to arrest the Four Horsemen and shouts "freeze!"--they then escape with help from the hypnotized "football player" audience members. The police chase the magicians through the streets but are ultimately tricked. Only Alma comes close as she manages to corner Daniel with her gun, but seeing him unarmed and frightened causes her to hesitate, allowing Daniel to escape.
Although Dylan blames her for letting Daniel go, Dylan knows Alma was probably the only person not fooled by the Four Horsemen into running in the wrong direction. Finally more receptive to her opinions, Alma tells him about the rumors of a magicians' secret society called "The Eye". They were a group of magicians similar to Robin Hood; stealing from the rich, giving to the poor, often dependent on illusions and great leaps of faith or even blind obedience. Dylan is skeptical, but then Alma starts drawing comparisons to a particular magician, one who Thaddeus exposed. That man was so humiliated he attempted a complex underwater stunt that went awry, yet a body was never found. The heists might have been a mere distraction in the bigger picture, something that Thaddeus understands when an infuriated Tressler speaks to him. Arthur hires Thaddeus to expose and humiliate the Four Horsemen in their next performance.
Things are tense before the Four Horsemen's last performance in New York City. They are still following instructions from their mysterious benefactor, but worried that after everything is accomplished their benefactor will abandon them to the police. As the youngest, Jack is most panicked and the others order him to follow the plan. The police arrive and surround the building--Jack is left alone to destroy all remaining evidence, but Dylan and his partner discover his hideout. What evidence he couldn't burn Jack grabs and tries to flee, but Dylan and his partner are in hot pursuit. The magician attempts to escape in a stolen car, and the car chase is broadcast live before Jack loses control of the vehicle. When the car flips and skids to a halt Dylan tries to get him out, but can only take the evidence before the car explodes in flames.
The remaining three of the Four Horsemen post an online video mourning Jack's loss but resolve to continue their final act in New York. From the papers Jack had tried to destroy, Dylan and Alma learn that the Four Horsemen are targeting a particular safe which is under the surveillance of another FBI team. Alma has no jurisdiction, and with the Four Horsemen's consistent ability to outwit Dylan, another FBI team leader takes over the case. The team rush to where the safe is stored, only to find the room empty. As it turns out, another FBI agent had been hypnotized to give instructions for the safe to be transported. The team escort the safe to the destination, only to meet up with Thaddeus. Thaddeus tells them to check the safe. Inside the safe they find only balloons, the Four Horsemen have outsmarted them again. By now, Dylan is convinced there is a fifth member of the team, potentially Alma or Thaddeus.
"5 Pointz" is where the final performance is to be held. Dylan once again attempt to arrest the Four Horsemen but the three escape by using holograms, dummies, and even jumping off a rooftop. Money again rains from the sky into the cheering crowd, but it turns out the money is fake. Knowing that the story of the Four Horsemen is now over, Dylan resigns himself to let it go and explore his feelings for Alma instead. Meanwhile, Thaddeus returns to his car, only to discover it is filled with the real money from the stolen safe. The FBI show up and arrest Thaddeus for being part of the plan.
In prison, Thaddeus tells Dylan that he was framed. He explains how the Four Horsemen performed the safe heist through the use of mirrors and then faking Jack's death with a duplicate "standard issue" FBI car, but can't figure out how they managed to set everything up by themselves. He realizes then that there was a fifth horsemen and it was not him or Alma but Dylan. Dylan was the mastermind of the entire plot, though Thaddeus is unable to determine why. Dylan tells Thaddeus he wants him imprisoned in the bars forever, trying to figure out why. He leaves to reunite with the Four Horsemen, who are stunned to learn that he is the mysterious benefactor who brought them together. He initiates them into "The Eye".
Back in France, Alma finds an old newspaper article slipped in her current paper. The article is about the magician who attempted the underwater trick and drowned, leaving his family penniless. Dylan appears and confesses that he is the son of the drowned magician. He designed the Horsemen plot to obtain revenge on those involved: Thaddeus, for humiliating his father; the bank in Paris and Tressler's company, which refused to pay insurance on his father's death; and the safe-producing company that produced the safe used in his father's trick and the Horsemen's final act. The company may have made good bank safes, but for the safe Dylan's father used they used an inferior quality of metal, causing it to warp and contributing to his death. Dylan was living in poverty until The Eye recruited him. He admits that he had planned everything, but did not plan on meeting and falling in love with Alma. Although she briefly considers turning Dylan in, ultimately she chooses not to.