Individually, J. Daniel Atlas, Merritt McKinney, Henley Reeves and Jack Wilder have been managing modest careers as magicians. A shadowy figure appears at each of their performances, leaving a tarot card and guiding them to an apartment for a big surprise. A year later, the four individual magicians have officially teamed up and are conducting an outrageous show in Las Vegas. During the show, they bring a man up to the stage and tell him that he is about to rob his bank. When the trick occurs, the man is mysteriously transported to the safe of his bank in Paris and millions begin to rain on the Las Vegas crowd. Detective Dylan Rhodes and Alma Dray from Interpol get assigned to the case but fail to have enough to pin the robbery on the crew. Released back into the world, the detectives follow the group to New Orleans for their next show, in what looks like only the next step in a plan to make a much bigger magical statement.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg (J. Daniel Atlas), Mark Ruffalo (Dylan Rhodes), Woody Harrelson (Merritt McKinney), Isla Fisher (Henley Reeves), Dave Franco (Jack Wilder), Melanie Laurent (Alma Dray), Morgan Freeman (Thaddeus Bradley), Michael Caine (Arthur Tressler), Michael Kelly (Agent Fuller), Common (Evans), David Warshofsky (Cowan)
Eisenberg’s brash attitude is back and greatly matches the personality needed for this sort of character. Harrelson, Fisher and Franco all bring that additional flair to their roles, as they each have that sense of confidence with only a hidden private hesitation for the pressure on themselves to succeed. Ruffalo comes off a bit exaggerated at times, but his twist brings a slightly different light to his performance. Freeman was an excellent choice for the magic buster, as he also gets the audience a little off track by serving in that role of misdirection.
Louis Leterrier’s film is all about misdirection, deception and awe, as he tries his talents with a slightly different genre than his film history. This story was truly focused around the magicians and their quest, which was unknown for much of the film. The Order of the Eye gets introduced as a motivation point later on, but there was still a mystery to the plot by use of action and the scenes trying to figure out the secrets to their magic. For Dylan and Alma, the magic seemed a bit unreal but they both knew there was more to what was going on than they could see straight out.
The film included a number of interesting tricks to get things started. Daniel’s specialty seemed to be slight of hand and misdirection, which he used to do the classic “pick-a-card” trick but larger than life on a side of a building. Merritt was a mentalist who was able to devise a man’s secret while his wife was hypnotized. Henley, an illusionist, did what seemed to be a standard escape from a water tank trick but with the added flair of swimming with a school of piranhas. Jack was definitely all about flair and slight of hand, as he used a spoon trick to pickpocket a patron on a ferry. Coming together, they put on quite a show with a lot of technology and unreal magical concepts that definitely go beyond what even real magicians seem to be able to do.
This film keeps the viewer guessing as there are multiple directions it could go as the story progresses. The tricks are definitely set to amaze and the humor makes this whole experience a winner.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5