Thursday, November 3, 2011

Now You See Me - Script Review

The Verdict:
The arrogant Robin-Hood-esque super illusionists playing cat and mouse with the FBI is as thrilling as it is entertaining, unfortunatly the ending can't live up to the expectations and  leaves a bad aftertaste.

What's it about?
FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull of bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. (Source: IMDb)

Plot Summary (HEAVY SPOILERS!):
In Las Vegas: Michael Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Santayana, London Osborne (Woody Harrelson) and Alex Hero, forming The Four Horsemen, magically 'rob' a bank in france and give out the money to the audience. Also in attendance, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a notorius exposer of magicians and their tricks. As it turns out, the bank was really robbed and so FBI agent Dylan Hobbes (Mark Ruffalo) - who is divorced, as we quickly learn - teams up with Alma Vargas (Melanie Laurent), a Las Vegas Police Officer. The Four Horsemen plan to do two more shows in ten days (Ticking Time Bomb!), so the officers bring in the four illusionists for interrogation, but of course can't prove anything. Bradley comes into the offices and offers his services, as Atlas was his student (Emotional Angle), but the FBI agents send him off. But as the time runs out and The Four Horseman are about to perform their second show, the agents ask Bradley back (Bringing Together the Storylines). He explains, that the robbery of the french bank was planned weeks in advanced and only through tricks it seemed like it was robbed as they were on the stage.
Cut to New York: a disguised man breaks into the offices of Mr. Tressler, the manager of The Four Horseman. Soon after that, the disguised man enters the backstage area of the second show and is revealed to be Atlas. At the second show, they expose Mr. Tressler (Michael Caine), who is in the audience, as a fraud and then transfer money from his bank account to the account of every person in the hall. The Four Horseman promptly leave for Los Angeles, as the police can't pin anything on them again. It is then, that Bradley suggests, that there must be a Fifth Horseman, secretly working in the background. But as we see, only Atlas knows the identity of this mystery person. Finally doing a little bit of work, Hobbes and Vargas discover that Mr. Kessler had a safety deposit box in the french bank, that was robbed at the first show. They assume that this was the real target and find out that in that box was a blue print of the Federal Reserve Printing House right outside of LA. Shortly before the third, and final show starts, a masked Alex Hero is chased by the police chase after he tried to slip away from the hotel and dies in a horrible crash. But the tree remaining Horseman still want to continue..
The show starts! Hobbes and Vargas stake out the Printing House and soon an unscheduled truck arrives and three man try to get into the building, as it turns out, the three were hypnotised and can't remember anything. Hobbes, Vargas and Bradley rush back to the show, just in time to see Atlas bringing Alex Hero 'back fom the dead'. Then they magically rob the Printing House and again distribute the money amongst the audience, Hobbes and Varga failed!
BEWARE, SPOILERS: When Bradley returns home, he finds all of the money in his basement. Seconds later, the police storm his house and arrest him. He is quickly convicted as the Fifth Horseman, responsible for every crime, although he claim's he's innocent. Then Hobbes visits him in prison and reveals, that he, Hobbes, was in fact the Fifth Horseman and wanted to bring Bradley into prison for revealing the secrets of magicians.

The Robin Hood Effect: With their first act, the script establishes The Four Horsemen as modern Robin Hoods, in the time of economic collapse and depression, they rob a 'evil' bank and give the money out to the audience. Instantly, we like this. It shows the universal and time-less appeal of the Robin Hood legend. Adding to the fun is the special relationship between The Four Horsemen and the FBI: Yes, the magicians and illusionists are arrogant and full of themselves, but we want them to win (at the beginng, that is) and the interrogation scene played with this aspect masterfully.
Bumpy Start: The script throws a lot of characters in our direction on the first few pages and most of them only get a cookie cutter backstory. In fact, the whole 'briefing scene' oozes cliche! I know, the script cares more about action and thrill, so three-dimensional characters are not that important, but why then write so utterly over-used scenes (like Hobbes trying to re-connect to his ex-wife and his daughter)?
SPOILERS: Puppet Master: Approximatly in the middle of the script, the idea of the 'Fifth Horseman' is brough up, for one it raises the stakes (because it could be anyone of the team), but when Atlas explains, that the whole planning and project was his idea, it takes away from the team. Their integrity and position is endangered, when they are just following orders.
SPOILERS: About that End: So, Hobbes planned three shows, performed an impossible break-in, just to bring Hobbes into prison. That seems kind of like over-doing it. To be honest, it robs all the shows, the whole Robin-Hood-thingy of it's meaning and turns it into a petty, kindergarden-fight. Oh yeah, did I mention, that Hobbes is a member of a secret society, sworn to protect the secrets of magicians? I am not kidding!

The Project:
This version of the script was written by Boaz Yakin (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time) and Edward Ricourt. For the final film Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and Ed Solomon revised the script. (Source: /Film)

1 comment:

  1. I just saw the movie. the names for the most part are different and so ar a majority of the small details.