This film is a cross between The Italian Job and a Derren Brown show with a little bit of Robin Hood splashed in for good measure. Think bank robberies, hypnotism and money bursting through air vents in the ceiling. The result is slick, fast-paced, and exhilarating. Throughout the mantra of staying one step ahead is repeated, but it was one of those films where you run after the main characters panting and crying out for them to slow down. Although this does make the film hard-work, I enjoyed every minute of it.
The film begins mysteriously with four street magicians receiving ominous tarot card invitations and suddenly jumps to their massive sell-out shows where they rob a bank before a live studio audience. The contrast between these gave the film both a gloss and yet still grounded it in reality, although the jump was slightly too sudden and left me feeling a little lost. The film shows the trials of these four magicians as they are chased by the FBI, and hope to reach their final sell-out show before they are arrested and the cops uncover their tricks.
The four magicians are played by Jesse Eisenberg who fits the know-it-all illusionist character well, Isla Fisher as the magician’s assistant who’s made her own way, Dave Franco as the rookie magician and my personal favourite Woody Harrelson, whose hypnotizing creates some of the funniest moments in the film. Their pursuers are cops Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent and Morgan Freeman as the man who defrauds magicians. The cast pulled off their performances extremely well.
Not only does the film surprise and shock with the insane magic tricks and illusions, it also has chase scenes and fight scenes including some very dangerous playing card missiles. Most importantly though it explains the tricks which, although against the rules of the trade, is what most audience members are clamouring for and doesn’t in this case ruin the magic. There is even a further dimension, which goes into some specifics of magic lore, although the ‘eye of horus’ idea fell a little flat at the end of the film.
This is one of those exceedingly clever and well-planned scripts that keeps you guessing until right at the end. I did think the final magic show was a bit of an anti-climax, as the previous two were cleverer and more exciting, but the end of the storyline certainly delivered. If you like good twist then this film is certainly for you and remember, the closer you look, the less you see.