Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see
Four magicians are each individually approached by a stranger in a hoodie, who's face is never seen in the camera, and each one of them eventually discovers tarot card themed invitations with a stylized eye.Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is a street performer doing card tricks, the seemingly typical card tricks climax in a whole building somehow reflecting his card.Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is a street mentalist, able to hypnotize and supposedly read the minds of his customers.Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) lures in customers by betting them money if they can figure out his tricks, and then stealing from them.Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) works as a performer seemingly risking her life for the audience's thrill.The invitation brings three of them to a run-down apartment. Daniel and Henley are surprised when they see each other, and Merritt is able to deduce that they used to work together and potentially date. While Merritt and Henley complain about Daniel's controlling personality, Jack arrives 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.The film then opens one year later, the four magicians performing in Las Vegas as "The Four Horsemen". Before they perform their final trick, they thank their sponsor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), an insurance magnate. To try something that has never been tried before, they declare that they will rob a bank. A member of the audience is chosen to name a bank to rob, and the Frenchman actually names a bank in France. The man is invited on stage and told to sign a card before he is teleported to his bank in Paris. There he is told to leave his signed card and the show ticket in the bank safe, before activating an airduct which vacuums up the money and showers it onto the crowd in Las Vegas. Meanwhile in France, the bank opens, and the staff indeed discover an empty safe with only the card and ticket inside.FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is called to investigate the theft and is partnered with Interpol Agent Alma Vargas (Mélanie Laurent). Alma has already deemed interrogation useless, but Dylan decides to do the interviews himself. The audience member insists on his innocence and sincerely believes he was transported to France, but it is soon discovered he had been hypnotized.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. 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 they briefly consider turning Dylan in, ultimately they choose not to.
Score: 72 %
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at 9.6.2022 21:15