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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Now You See Me

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Isla Fisher star in a scene from the movie "Now You See Me."
Professional magicians are caught up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse -- or white rabbit and doves, perhaps -- in "Now You See Me" (Summit), an entertaining caper movie.

Director Louis Leterrier ("Clash of the Titans") overcomes a huge handicap -- making magic appear convincing on the big screen -- by going behind the scenes and deconstructing the tricks, revealing how magicians manage the "now you don't" part.

Four magicians, each with a particular skill, are struggling to make a living: Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg) is handy with a deck of cards. Merritt (Woody Harrelson) is a master of "mentalism," hypnotizing his subjects to reveal their darkest secrets. Jack (Dave Franco) can bend spoons. And Henley (Isla Fisher), a Houdini-like escape artist, specializes in being chained underwater, only to break free in the nick of time.

Each magician receives a tarot card with instructions to meet in a rundown Manhattan apartment. Flash forward one year, and the four have become a world-famous team, "The Four Horsemen." They're managed by a mysterious capitalist (Michael Caine).

Does this quartet foretell an apocalypse? Not quite. But their glitzy Las Vegas act is more than it appears. No mere sawing a lady in half for this bunch! For their big finale, they manage to rob a bank in Paris in real time, handing out the stolen loot to the Vegas audience Robin-Hood style.

The outrageous stunt attracts the attention of the FBI, with lead detective Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) on the case. A comely French agent, Alma (Melanie Laurent), is brought in by Interpol to assist, and sparks fly between the two.

Also on the prowl is Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a former magician turned reality show host, whose mission is to expose the secrets of the trade. Thaddeus is determined to reveal the Four Horsemen as petty thieves with more bank heists in their future.

The chase is on, from Vegas to New Orleans and beyond, with the Four Horsemen always one step ahead of the law. As Daniel tells Dylan, "The first rule of magic is to always be the smartest guy in the room."

There's a major twist in store that borders on the preposterous, and those tarot cards introduce a slightly disturbing pagan element. But in the end, "Now You See Me" is a harmless and witty romp for grown-ups -- one that lingers in the memory, though, no longer than the time required to shout, "Abracadabra!"

The film contains mild action violence, a vulgar gesture, sexual innuendo, and some crude and profane language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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