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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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