Four magicians all receive a mysterious summons in the form of a tarot card with an obscure address on it. One year later, they are the Four Horsemen, famous stage magicians and illusionist who end their sold out Las Vegas show with a bank heist. This puts FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol officer Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) on the case to find out who did it. However, this isn’t your textbook case and the case proves difficult to crack even with the help of the professional illusion exposer, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). The investigation that follow is very weird, to say the least, and where nothing is as simple as black and white. Nothing is what it seems with magic (or unexplainable science), hidden secrets and ulterior motives are at the forefront ,in addition to the constant reminder that the closer you look, the less you see.
What is magic? What are illusions? It’s often described as unexplainable science or the art of misdirection. It’s the process of making us believe that we’ve seen something when we haven’t. It’s keeping us distracted to the point that we’re looking too hard and missing the bigger picture. It’s “targeted deception” to put it simply. And the targeted deception is on a roll in this movie. I think it’s time for a headcount. J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) who is highly skilled with sleight-of-hand and still finds himself doing card tricks to groups of people on the pavement as well as using it to pick up women. Merritt McKinley (Woody Harrelson) is a former celebrity mentalist and hypnotist who now hustles the weak-minded out of their money, in a remarkable fashion my I add. Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) knows how to get the crowd going in terms of his tricks, and freeing them from their cash. Lastly, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is Daniel’s former assistant/ex-girlfriend and she’s an escape artist whose latest trick is to escape a tank of water whilst handcuffed. Did I mention that the tank is full of piranhas?
Poof! Now our four horsemen are performing a show in the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas. Their trick is teleportation but more importantly teleporting a member of the audience to his bank in Paris. There, he helps them steal €2.6m. He thinks he’s been transported thousands of miles across the Atlantic to his homeland but it’s all an illusion that has been perfectly planned down to the last detail, as we see in the movie. The FBI and Interpol are sure that it was not real magic that freed the bank of their cash and the cynical Agent Rhodes is dead set on finding out how the they pulled off their heist. Alma Dray is his partner who has been sent from French Interpol to help him with the matter, as it is a French-American case. When their theories of logic and reasoning are voided, they turn to Thaddeus Bradley who’s made a ton of money selling DVDs about how magicians do their tricks.
These magicians seem unstoppable, running rings around the FBI. Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) is their benefactor and is the punchline of their next joke. This time they are acting like Robin Hood and his Merry Men, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. They free Tressler of $143m by depositing it in the bank accounts of audience members. They steal from the rich to give to the poor. Their final act is to steal $5bn from a warehouse in the core of The Big Apple. Law enforcement know what’s coming, but that’s not going to be enough to stop the biblically named magicians pulling off their most ostentatious act yet.
I also enjoyed the amount of spiritual content as well as about faith and belief. Some things can’t be explained by logic or reason but more otherworldly things like magic, simply need a little faith. Some things exist and nobody knows why. Things like that should be left to the imagination. It’s great to see the contrasting ideologies of Alma and Rhodes. They have completely opposing viewpoints towards this case, mystery and fate. He follows logic, reason and things he can see with his own eyes. In comparison, Alma is a bit mystical and is sympathetic towards the magicians. She sees the logic and reason of things in the world but also the spiritual and mystical side.
Some things can’t be explained and she accepts that. She consistently talks about the power of belief and having faith in something. The more obvious spiritual reference is the name of the group, ‘The Four Horseman’ which has been pulled straight out of The Book Of Revelations thus The Four Horseman Of The Apocalypse. As well as never-ending examples of spirituality and mysticism, there are action scenes as well, such as a car chase involving Jack Wilder and the FBI which ends in flipping vehicles and cars ablaze. I enjoyed the chases on foot as the effects with the flash paper. They’re very cool to look at onscreen and give the FBI a lot of bother. I’d love to get my hands on some of those. The theatrical pyrotechnics look like fireballs and totally awesome.
In conclusion this is very entertaining, and a fun flick with a varied cast which includes: Jesse Eisenberg (Batman V Superman), Isla Fisher (Rango), Woody Harrelson (True Detective) and Dave Franco (Superbad) as our protagonists. The rest of cast was also very capable with the great talents of: Common (Selma), Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Mark Ruffalo (Avengers) Michael Kelly (House Of Cards), Morgan Freeman (Batman Trilogy) and Michael Caine (Interstellar).