Magic is in the air, and the surprising $28.1 million splash (plus $600,000 internationally) that Now You See Me made during its first weekend of release (May 31-June 2) continues to ripple through the nation’s multiplexes in a way that spells S-E-Q-U-E-L.
What’s unusual about Now You See Me is that the most recognizable names on the movie-theater marquee — Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman — have little more than slightly expanded cameo roles as unscrupulous millionaire insurance executive Arthur Tressler and former magician-turned-debunker-of-magicians Thaddeus Bradley, respectively. But their prickly performances really add spice to the savory celluloid gumbo that is Now You See Me, as it travels from the Big Apple to Las Vegas to New Orleans and back to New York City for its epic night-time grand finale.
Now You See Me stars Jesse Eisenberg as sleight-of-hand specialist and card sharp J. Daniel Atlas, Woody Harrelson as mentalist Merritt McKinney, Isla Fisher as illusionist Henley Reeves, and Dave Franco as street magician and pickpocket Jack Wilder. A mysterious behind-the-scenes benefactor and wire-puller recruits this quartet of very different prestidigitators — redubbed “The Four Horsemen” — for a special mission. If they complete it successfully, they hope to achieve their heart’s desire of being initiated into a top-secret society of magicians.
Because Act One of their mission involves the robbery of a Paris bank while they are ostensibly onstage in Las Vegas, they immediately attract the unwelcome scrutiny of Mark Ruffalo as indignant FBI agent Dylan Rhodes and Mélanie Laurent as his equally perplexed European counterpart, Interpol operative Alma Dray. Beginning when The Four Horsemen shower their Las Vegas audience with French bank notes, the chase is on to catch this larcenous foursome actually committing a crime for which they can be arrested, tried, and convicted. And, of, what a merry chase it is, thanks to the cheeky staging of French director Louis Leterrier!
“I am really happy that there’s a movie out about magicians, about the mystery and art of magic,” says film and television actor-turned-mentalist magician Joshua Lozoff of Durham, NC. “People are very interested in magic and the mystery behind it. They ask me questions about how I learned magic and whether magicians know each other.”
He adds, “The setting of Now You See Me is the culture of magicians…. I liked the clearly defined characters, representing the different genre’s of magic. There’s the illusionist [Isla Fisher] and street magician [Jesse Eisenberg], the mentalist [Woody Harrelson] and the slight-of-hand pickpocket [James Franco’s little brother Dave]. The consultants on the film [including Misdirectors Guild founder David Kwong] made clear distinctions as to the different genres of magic culture.”
What Lozoff liked least about the film, he says, is the overuse of CGI (computer-generated imagery), especially when magic could achieve the same effects. “They did things with special effects when it didn’t seem necessary,” says Josh Lozoff.
Lozoff says, “They had a great magic consultant named David Kwong. They could have kept the magic that happened onstage more realistic, as everyone who’s seen a live magic show knows.” For example, when the sheet swirls and falls to reveal a magical machine that will seemingly transport a Las Vegas audience member from France into the vault of his Paris bank, Lozoff says, “There are amazing ways to create that illusion.”
He adds, “The audience can tell that that’s something that you’d expect to see in a movie, not something you’d see in a live magic show like David Copperfield or Lance Burton would perform.”
Nevertheless, Josh Lozoff gives Now You See Me a big thumbs up! “It just made you feel that you have to pay close attention, like a good magic show,” Lozoff claims. “I watched people leaning forward, and watching for clues…. It’s a movie you’ve really got to pay attention to to appreciate.”
He adds, “I would defiinitely recommend this movie. It’s like a good magic show. It’s a lot of fun, and it makes people think. I think the filmmakers did a great job of that.
“The reason that the film is doing so well[, having earned $112 million worldwide as of June 27th,] is that people are hungry for a movie that makes you think,” says Josh Lozoff. “So many movies are just mindless entertainment.
Joshua Lozoff (Actor/Magician)
Upcoming Triangle appearances:
Now You See Me (France/U.S., 2013)
Genre: Crime/Thriller, Color, Rated PG-13 (for language, some action, and sexual content), 115 Minutes.