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Laramie Movie Scope:
Now You See Me

The closer you look at the diversion, the less you see

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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June 1, 2013 -- This film did not get very strong reviews, but I liked it. Let me qualify that by saying that I love magic, and films about magic, like “Houdini,” “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist.” This is a film about magic. Although it is pretty high tech, a lot of the magic tricks in it are very traditional, based on trickery and misdirection.

While I anticipated some plot developments in the film, and saw through some of the tricks, there were some big surprises at the end of the film that I did not see coming, and that is unusual for me. It is hard to guess some of this film's secrets in advance because it gives you a lot of suspects to think about.

Four small-time magicians and hustlers are recruited by a mysterious magician who molds the four into the biggest magic act in America called “The Four Horseman,” even though one of the four is a woman. This mysterious mastermind, and his motives, are hidden until the end of the movie. The four horsemen are like a heist team, each with specific skills. J. Daniel Atlas (played by Jesse Eisenberg “The Social Network”) is a smug magician, Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson of “Seven Psychopaths”) is a mentalist and hypnotist, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher of “The Great Gatsby”) is an escape artist and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco of “Warm Bodies”) is a pickpocket who can also pick locks.

The nemesis of this group is a professional debunker of magic acts, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman of “The Dark Knight Rises”). There is a mysterious connection between Bradley and another magician who is presumed dead in a failed escape attempt, but his body and the safe he was locked in during the escape trick were never found. The ghost of this dead magician haunts the rest of the movie. You just know this ghost has got to have something to do with the story, and he does.

The Four Horsemen are arrested after they perform a fantastic magic trick in Las Vegas in which they seemingly teleport a man to a bank in France and then somehow teleport the money back from France to Las Vegas, where millions of Euros rains down upon the crowd. The FBI, led by agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo of “The Avengers”) is unable to make any charges stick, so the Four Horsemen are released. Rhodes contacts Thaddeus Bradley, who agrees to show him how the trick was done, in return for a consulting fee. A very pretty Interpol agent, Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent of “Beginners”) also shows up to help Rhodes.

This complicated case is driving Rhodes crazy. He begins to think maybe Bradley or Dray are mixed up in some elaborate scam, or maybe Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine of “The Dark Knight Rises”) the billionaire manager of “The Four Horseman,” is behind it all. Everyone becomes a suspect. Along the way, a safe full of money disappears, the horsemen jump off a roof and seemingly are transformed into falling money, and a huge amount of money mysteriously appears in bank accounts of people who are victims of insurance scams.

There is also a good deal of funny comedy material in the story. There is also some action, fights and car chases, etc. But mainly, this is a complicated puzzle of a movie. It is smart and there is a lot of misdirection in the story. Misdirection is a key ingredient in most magic tricks and it is key ingredient in this movie, too. I liked this a lot. Like most movies about very complicated capers, it isn't very believable, because there are too many variables in real life for anyone to be able to actually pull off such complicated schemes, but it is a lot of fun to watch anyway. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2013 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)