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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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