Hi! It’s Annie!
It’s that time again where I need to talk about some of my favorite comfort movies that have gotten me through this entire year of quarantine. ‘Now You See Me’ is a movie that I can say with absolute confidence was definitely slept on. Maybe you’ve heard of it in passing, maybe you haven’t heard of it at all, and maybe you’ve actually seen it once before. I’ve never met someone outside of my family that’s seen this one, which is really surprising to me. My family loved it and it was even popular enough to get a sequel (though whether the sequel was actually as good as it could have been is an entirely different question). For those of you who haven’t seen this, this is a movie about a team of four magicians known as The Four Horseman who kind of Robin Hood money out of the pockets of the rich and funnel it to the poor and mistreated. The movie focuses on the magicians as well as the police officers attempting to stop them considering they are actually committing crimes. The real draw of this movie is definitely the magic though, and that’s what makes it worth coming back to every time. SPOILERS!!!
Daniel Atlas (The Illusionist):
Because the magicians are by far the best part of this film, I’m going to go through each one. Daniel Atlas is the magician played by Jessie Eisenberg. He does some card tricks, some things that go way beyond card tricks, and all magic that people would generally refer to as mind bending. Daniel Atlas is also a huge control freak and one of the most amusing characters in the entire movie. If he’s not always the smartest person in the room, he’s at least close. He’s also just a little bit of a douchebag, but the other characters aren’t afraid of calling him out on that.
Henley Reeves (The Escape Artist):
Henley has what is quite possibly my favorite introduction of all the magicians. When we first meet her she is in a tank of water, chained to the floor, with piranhas stationed above her set to fall when the timer runs out. It appears to the crowd as though she fails and is eaten but then she mysteriously appears behind the crowd to reveal that she is, in fact, alive. It is stressful to watch because Isla Fisher actually became trapped during the filming of that scene and the staff thought that her attempts to get out were just acting. Henley is the only one who really seems to keep the group together, which is why it feels so odd when she isn’t in the second installment of this franchise. She is instead replaced by Lizzie Caplan as Lula. Lula is actually a gore comic magician, which I found to be a bit weird. The escape artist fits so much better with the entire plotline as well as the other magicians. But I actually did like the character of Lula better as a whole, so I’m a little conflicted.
Merritt McKinney (The Mentalist):
One of the main comic reliefs for the film. Merritt is probably the oldest of the magicians and specializes in hypnotism and using behavioral cues to read thoughts. Basically all bullshit, but there are a few pieces of magic that work differently in this movie than they would in real life. The Director said that this is because this movie is sort of depicting how magic would be in an ideal world. Merritt is bearable in this film, but I really wish he would have just disappeared in the second film. Woody Harrelson doesn’t like to play the same role twice so he requested that he play the twin brother of his character in the second film as well as the original character if he was to stay on the project. Considering they just came up with a replacement for Henley, I really think they should have just done this for Merritt too. As much as I like how funny the character is and how he keeps things lighthearted, keeping his character was not worth… whatever that was. I swear that twin character was the most annoying part of the movie, twin tropes or no.
Jack Wilder (The Sleight):
Now, he’s really the cards guy. But more importantly, he’s the main con artist. If you aren’t watching him closely, and even if you are, he’ll steal your wallet before you can blink. He’s also especially skilled at throwing cards with such precision that he can cut a pencil in half. He’s got some talent. He’s also the youngest of the group of magicians (until Lula shows up) and really brings that sense of innocence to the team. You almost feel bad for him being thrown into this situation, as dangerous as it can be sometimes, but his enthusiasm to be there more than makes up for it.
The fifth horseman and the son of the famous magician in this fictional world, Lionel Shrike. In the first movie he plays his role as the main officer on the case of the Horseman so well that you don’t suspect he’s one of them until at least well into the movie. And the reveal never gets old. It’s insane to watch it back and see how well he was playing his role. I just wish they hadn’t made him so weirdly dumb and angry in the second film.
The Interpol agent that Dylan is stuck with who is unfortunately not in the second film. Which absolutely sucks because she was almost the heart of the first film. You can’t help but love her. She’s a complete badass and she has to be one of my favorite characters.
Though ‘Now You See Me’ is about the magic, I firmly believe that it is just as much about the characters. It really does take it’s time to develop each character well in a way that makes you care for them. It isn’t an action movie just for the sake of action and all of the characters are flawed. None of them feel too much like a trope. So, if you want a little extra magic and intrigue in your life right now, I highly recommend checking out the first movie at least. Only watch the second movie if you want to see Daniel Radcliffe miscast as what is basically Draco Malfoy. (Because it’s a magic franchise and apparently we had to get Daniel in there somewhere.)
See you across the pond!