Like any good magic trick, a cinematic universe requires a proper setup in order to hook and dazzle and audience with its tricks and twists. Now You See Me hit theaters in 2013, and introduced viewers to an intriguing new band of heroes known as the Four Horsemen. Mysteriously brought together by a hidden benefactor, the heroes of Now You See Me set out on a string of seemingly unrelated illusion-based heists, scams and cons that all built towards something supposedly even greater than anyone could possibly imagined.
However, many people simply left the theater after Now You See Me completely confused and befuddled by what they had just seen, and not necessarily in a good way. Even those of us who paid incredibly close attention to the film failed to pick up on several important plot elements that made the ending come together. With that in mind, we here at Cinema Blend have gone through the ending of Now You See Me in order to properly fill you in on everything you need to see before you check out Now You See Me 2 this coming weekend. However, we first must get you caught up on everything leading up to the film's confusing ending.
As with any good heist film, Now You See Me commences with the formation of a team. We're introduced to four undeniably talented magicians from various backgrounds: J. Daniel "Danny" Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). Although all of them come from different walks of life, and maintain distinct skills in the world of magic and illusion, one mysterious, hooded figure brings them together and devises a Las Vegas show for them from the shadows. They have absolutely no idea who has devised this show for them, but they soon realize that – if they pull it off – this series of tricks will bring them the fame, fortune, and infamy that they have always desired for themselves. That’s the basic premise and setup for the events of the movie, but what about that tricky ending?
What Happens At The End
Following the formation of their magic troupe, the Four Horsemen first rob a major French Bank, and then they proceed to pull a similar heist on their very own financier -- a wealthy businessman named Arthur Tressler played by Michael Caine. These acts bring them international notoriety, as well as the suspicions of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes. Various law enforcement services want to take them down, but the fact that they're seemingly using real magic allows them to elude concrete evidence of any actual wrongdoing. Although they consistently remain one step ahead of the police throughout the runtime of the film, Rhodes and his men eventually close in on them, and a chase seemingly leads to the death of Horseman Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). Danny, Merritt, and Henley mourn the death of Jack, but they also make a solemn vow to their admirers and their enemies that they will see these tricks all the way to the end.
Throughout all of this, Rhodes' new partner Alma (Mélanie Laurent) on loan from Interpol has a sneaking suspicion that the Four Horsemen are part of a larger conspiracy related to a mysterious and borderline mythical group of magicians known as The Eye -- a group whose very existence stems back to the days of ancient Egypt. With the stakes at their highest, the enemies of the Horsemen convene in New York on a mission to bring them down before they get away with their final big trick: a major heist against the Elkhorn Safe Company. However, this is ultimately where things start to really get muddled for the film...
Now You See Me concludes with the three "surviving" Horsemen pulling off their final magic show for an ever-growing audience in 5 Pointz, New York as the FBI tries to prevent them from completing their final heist. Despite the best efforts of the law enforcement agency, the Horsemen manage to escape from the magic show, and it is revealed that a mysterious party has already stolen the money from the Elkhorn safe. Having eluded the police, Danny (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), and Henley (Isla Fisher) follow the end of the instructions left by the mysterious Fifth Horseman and arrive at Central Park, where they find a very much alive Jack Wilder waiting for them.
As the newly reunited and reassembled Four Horsemen make their way through the decrepit park, they come upon an old carousel where the Fifth Horseman -- FBI agent Dylan Rhodes -- is waiting to congratulate them and offer them membership to The Eye, as well as reveal why he chose them for this endeavor in the first place. Proudly accepting their place within the ancient organization, the four magicians step onto the carousel with Rhodes and miraculously disappear, because magic.
What We Think It Means
Now You See Me doesn't quite stick the landing as well as it thinks it does, but overall we have managed to glean some fairly important tidbits from the somewhat sloppy ending that could have major significance for the franchise moving forward. The film's conclusion provides confirmation that the fabled organization known as The Eye does in fact exist, and that it has operated as a sort of shady "Robin Hood" presence throughout the world for centuries. The events of this film acts as a sort of "audition" proving the worth of the Horsemen to serve as members of The Eye and stand up for those who cannot help themselves.
In a way this ending feels somewhat similar to Nick Fury showing up at Tony Stark's house at the end of the original Iron Man in 2008; it tells us that these heroes we have come to root for throughout the course of the film have only just begun to explore their talents and abilities, and that even greater adventures await them as members of this new organization. They're no longer just rogues; they have become part of something much bigger, and as such, the globetrotting adventures have only just begun.
The Fifth Horseman, And Why He Pulled Off This Caper
Now You See Me is a movie chock full of twists and turns, which is sort of a given in a movie about magician bank robbers. However, the biggest revelation that the film spends the most time setting up is the fact that FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is actually the fifth Horsemam of the group -- the one who orchestrates the entire scheme depicted in the film and brings together the heroes we come to root for over the course of the movie. Despite their thorough instructions and meticulous attention to detail, this surprise manages to shock even the Four Horsemen, who have seemingly been in on every single misdirection and ruse from the beginning; needless to say they're somewhat taken aback when they find out.
By the end of the film we learn that Dylan Rhodes is actually the son of deceased magician Lionel Shrike, a man who lost his life trying to rebuild a reputation destroyed by Morgan Freeman's Thaddeus Bradley. Rhodes spent his entire life mastering his father's craft, becoming a member of The Eye, and eventually setting out on a path of revenge against Bradley, Arthur Tressler's insurance company -- who failed to pay out his father's policy -- and Elkhorn Safe Company, a company whose faulty safes directly led to his father's demise. Once his personal mission of vengeance has come to a conclusion, he appears before the Four Horsemen and offers them full membership to The Eye, setting up future potential adventures for the quintet.
Where Is Morgan Freeman's Character?
As previously mentioned, the ending of Now You See Me sees Dylan Rhodes getting revenge against Morgan Freeman's Thaddeus Bradley for ruining his father's reputation and driving him to attempt a magic trick that ultimately led to his death. Rhodes achieves this revenge by having the Four Horsemen pull off an elaborate heist, and then staging it to look as though Bradley himself had stolen the money. For a guy who makes a living off of being one step ahead of people, he looks fairly shocked in that moment.
The last time we as an audience see Bradley during the events of Now You See Me, he is left in a jail cell with no full understanding of what has happened. Dylan Rhodes appears in the cell with him and reveals that he has framed Bradley, but he provides no reason as to why. That's the final insult: the hope that never truly being able to know why he was tricked will eat away at Thaddeus while he rots away in prison. However, the marketing material for Now You See Me 2 clearly shows that he will make a return, which means that someone with considerable means and influence will ensure that his incarceration does not last very long.
Where Is Michael Caine's Character?
Although he plays a fairly important role in the narrative of the first movie, Michael Caine's Arthur Tressler never really receives a conclusion to his character arc. After the Four Horsemen steal his money and distribute it to the crowd of one of their magic shows, he goes to Thaddeus Bradley and hires him to track down and capture the elusive magicians. Bradley ultimately fails in his mission, and that leaves one very pissed off Arthur Tressler still very much out there by the time the credits roll.
Whatever mysterious forces seem to be coming after the Horsemen in Now You See Me 2, it would seem like a safe bet to assume that Arthur Tressler could have at least some affiliation with the group. He makes it abundantly clear that he's not a man to be trifled with, and we believed him when he said that.
Where Are The Four Horsemen?
Although Now You See Me has a somewhat muddled ending, we can reasonably deduce that the last we see of the Four Horsemen hints at their entry into a much larger world than previously imagined. During a mid-credits sequence at the end of the first film, we see the Four Horsemen driving through a desert until they come upon what looks like a junk yard full of old magician memorabilia. They get out of their car and slowly begin to examine the area until they come upon a set of crates covered in the symbol of The Eye.
We don't know for certain what's in these crates, but whatever it is will likely have a major bearing over the next mission of the Four Horsemen, as well as their newfound membership within the mysterious Eye. We know for certain that Isla Fisher won't return for Now You See Me 2 as Henley Reeves, but it seems that the group will find a replacement for her in the form of Lizzie Caplan's Lula so that the Four Horsemen can remain whole.