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Now You See Me

NOW YOU SEE ME

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. VARIOUS LOCATIONS

FOUR MAGICIANS are spied on by a mysterious figure in a GREY HOODIE who is TOO SHORT to be MORGAN FREEMAN and TOO THIN to be MICHAEL CAINE so we can cross off two candidates for the big final reveal straight away.

JESSE EISENBERG

Let's use these introductory scenes to showcase our unique magical talents. For example, MY talent is being a smarmy douchebag!

ISLA FISHER

And I'm a sexy escape artist that, after this scene, never needs to escape from anything, or be sexy!

DAVE FRANCO

I have trained for years to acquire the formidable skill of being James Franco's brother!

WOODY HARRELSON

Meanwhile I've got vastly powerful mental abilities only slightly less potent than those of Professor X! For example, I can hypnotize anybody in mere seconds, even over the phone. So yeah, in this group it's like I'm Fergie, will.i.am, and apl.de.ap rolled together, and the other guys are Taboo's dead grandmother.

The MYSTERIOUS FIGURE arranges for each magician to find a TAROT CARD with a DATE and ADDRESS on it, because RULE ONE of professional magic is whenever you find mysterious instructions you DROP GODDAMN EVERYTHING and FUCKING DO THEM. The address leads them all to NEW YORK.

INT. NEW YORK BUILDING

The MAGICIANS converge outside an APARTMENT.

JESSE EISENBERG

Hm, somehow we have to get past this locked normal door.

DAVE FRANCO

Allow me!

(picks lock)

Thus marking the first, last, and only time my skills are needed for anything.

They ENTER and poke around doing MUNDANE THINGS like screwing in a LIGHT BULB, and lighting a CANDLE.

JESSE EISENBERG

Whoa, we've set off a secret mechanism that releases a cloud of dry ice, then projects a series of blueprints against it at high speed! Lucky for us we're all accomplished structural engineers with photographic memories!

ISLA FISHER

That's a pretty damned convoluted way to show us the plan, but clearly whoever's behind this wanted to be certain we'd mastered the exotic, forbidden art of making light bulbs and candles work.

JESSE EISENBERG

Indeed! We are now... THE FOUR HORSEMEN. And to reinforce our new group identity, we must spend every single moment together from now on. Eating, sleeping, planning, you name it. Always in matching outfits, and always accompanied by generic heist music.

WOODY HARRELSON

All right, let's do this!

The HEIST MUSIC swells as the HORSEMEN strut in perfect formation to the nearest BATHROOM and all TAKE A MASSIVE SYNCHRONIZED SHIT.

INT. LAS VEGAS THEATRE - THE FIRST MAGIC SHOW

The HORSEMEN introduce themselves using LOTS AND LOTS OF SWEEPING PANNING SHOTS to desperately try and impress the REAL-WORLD AUDIENCE. Meanwhile their IN-MOVIE AUDIENCE gets to watch them stand and walk about on stage a bit.

JESSE EISENBERG

(to audience)

Is everyone enjoying our awkward, cheesy stage banter? I hope so because that's what 80% of our remaining dialogue sounds like, even when we're offstage.

ISLA FISHER

For our next and only trick we need a random Frenchman who looks a bit like the guy from The Artist, but not too much.

(points)

You, sir! Please come forward.

JOSE GARCIA

Allo, yes, merci! Bien sur, I am eager to translate my homeland success into appearing in many of your American films, which I believe this thankless role will help me do, mais oui?

JESSE EISENBERG

(grinning)

That's how it always works! Now put on this glow-in-the-dark headscratcher so we can teleport you to your bank in France.

JOSE VANISHES in a PUFF OF CGI!

ISLA FISHER

And now we teleport all the bank's money back here!

(pause)

Obviously we didn't really do that, it was a trick. Meaning the money has been suspended on the ceiling all along, which is fine because our expensive slick Vegas show has no stagehands or Union reps or safety inspectors or crew of any kind.

DAVE FRANCO

Or we DID have them, but Woody hypnotized them all to think that...

WOODY HARRELSON

(interrupting)

Okay look, we COULD end every scene with "or Woody used his apparently limitless hypnotic powers to make everyone remotely involved do/think/remember whatever we want". If we go down that road, though, you'll eventually realize I could have carried out the entire plan by myself in my basement with no pants during commercial breaks of a Duck Dynasty marathon. So let's not?

The HORSEMEN proceed to get arrested by FBI AGENT MARK RUFFALO while steadfastly maintaining the SMUGGISH PRICK demeanor that all audiences just love to identify with.

INT. FBI INTERROGATION ROOM

JESSE EISENBERG

(smugly)

So you want to know how we pulled off that awesome trick, huh.

MARK RUFFALO

No, I want to know how you expect to pull off an entire magic-based movie that has no proper magic in it. You can't fall back on CGI and editing cheats all the time, dammit!

JESSE EISENBERG

I disagree. You may think you're a step ahead, but actually we're two steps ahead and you're a step behind.

MARK RUFFALO

Well maybe I took steps to be THREE steps ahead and YOU'RE a step behind.

JESSE EISENBERG

But there's four of us so that makes a total of EIGHT steps ahead.

MARK RUFFALO

Well I'm just gonna step it up then.

JESSE EISENBERG

He who steps last, steps longest.

MARK RUFFALO

I'm like Steppenwolf.

JESSE EISENBERG

You just drew the quickstep.

MARK RUFFALO

I need to step outside now.

INT. FBI HEADQUARTERS

MELANIE LAURENT navigates past the various divisions investigating aliens, one-armed hitmen, and Mads Mikklesen en route to see MARK.

MELANIE LAURENT

So you're the agent in charge of the Horsemen case. Because they robbed a French bank, Interpol sent me to help.

MARK RUFFALO

But our official position is that it's impossible for them to have ACTUALLY done that, which is why we had to release them. Wouldn't joining our investigations more or less fuck ourselves in the face, metaphorically speaking?

MELANIE LAURENT

It would. But I am French and cute, so I get to stay anyway. Also, I know lots about magic.

MARK RUFFALO

I DON'T CARE ABOUT MAGIC SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT MAGIC!! Now can we get back to dealing with these criminal magicians and their magic-themed crimes please?!?

INT. RESTAURANT

MARK and MELANIE meet up with MORGAN FREEMAN and his FEMALE ASSISTANT played by a WAX DUMMY.

MARK RUFFALO

Because you are an expert magic debunker, we need your help to prove the Horsemen stole the money.

MORGAN FREEMAN

No you don't. You can just match the serial numbers of their money to the French bank money and lock them right the fuck up, without giving even half a nanoshit about how their Vegas show worked.

MARK RUFFALO

Dammit Morgan, magic-themed movies are a tough sell at the box office and we need every last scrap of star power we can possibly get! So are you willing to help us?

MORGAN FREEMAN

If by "help" you mean explain crimes after it's too late, and occasionally call you up to say that you suck, then yes.

INT. PRIVATE JET PLANE

The HORSEMEN lounge about on the PLANE of wealthy businessman MICHAEL CAINE.

JESSE EISENBERG

Hey, let me try some mentalism tricks on Michael's lady assistant! Oh wait, she's another life-size wax figurine. Did we not hire ANY female extras?

DAVE FRANCO

You know how studios are, they start freaking out if there's any more than one good and one evil chick to keep track of.

JESSE EISENBERG

Oh yeah. So, Michael, it sure was nice of you to sink tons of your money into our unproven magic act, especially what with our plan depending on it and all.

MICHAEL CAINE

Well maybe Woody hypnotized me into doing that.

(thinks)

Of course if that's true, then why bother with the whole second phase of...

WOODY HARRELSON

WE WENT OVER THIS, GUYS.

INT. FBI VAN

The FBI prepare to thwart the Horsemen's imminent THEATRICAL SHOW while trying not to feel too much like MUPPET VILLAINS.

MARK RUFFALO

Listen up people! Jesse has put tracking bracelets on all the Horsemen and their entire crew. We can use this entirely impartial, trustworthy information to foil them!

MELANIE LAURENT

That is so goddamn stupid, it's tempting to think you're fucking up our operation on purpose, and you're actually the mastermind behind everything.

MARK RUFFALO

Well that's just silly because HEY IS THAT A BAGUETTE OVER THERE?!? NEXT TO THE RED WINE AND TOUR DE FRANCE WINNER BERNARD HINAULT??!?

MELANIE LAURENT

(facepalms)

INT. NEW ORLEANS THEATRE - THE SECOND MAGIC SHOW

The HORSEMEN begin the show by explaining all the tricks in an eight-year-old's MY FIRST MAGIC SET.

JESSE EISENBERG

And that's as close to real magic as this whole damn movie gets. You're welcome!

WOODY HARRELSON

Now for the showpiece trick.

(raises hand to temple)

I sense you are all short of money. I also sense that we arranged for you all to be here. So this is not so much a magic trick as event planning.

(pause)

Furthermore, all of you were denied insurance money by Michael Caine.

(pause)

Here's where it gets tricky. We're going to take money OUT of Michael Caine's bank account... and put it into YOUR bank accounts.

(pause)

So the money that USED to be Michael Caine's... now YOU have as YOUR money, which WAS Michael Caine's money.

(pause)

Which means that Michael Caine now has LESS money... and YOU have MORE money.

RANDOM AUDIENCE MEMBER

OH GOD WAIT SLOW DOWN WHAT MONEY WAS WHERE IN WHOSE MONEY I'M SOOO CONFUUUUUUSED

(brain explodes)

MARK RUFFALO

I'm not sure but I think they just did a crime! Get 'em!

MARK CHASES and CHASES and CHASES and CHASES and CHASES and CHASES and CHASES but they get away! His PHONE rings.

MORGAN FREEMAN

(on phone)

Hi, Mark? It's Morgan. You suck.

INT. NEW ORLEANS APARTMENT

MARK and MELANIE try to fill time between set pieces.

MELANIE LAURENT

This is a good time for us to develop our romantic chemistry, since it is also the only time. You start.

MARK RUFFALO

Okay. Fuck you!! Sorry, that was uncalled for. I'm just so driven. I like you.

MELANIE LAURENT

I like you too, enigmatically!

(falls asleep)

MARK RUFFALO

And I'm laying a blanket over you, and scene.

(sighs)

Yeah.

EXT. NEW YORK - THE HORSEMEN'S APARTMENT

The HORSEMEN discuss their next move.

JESSE EISENBERG

So according to the plan, what we need to do next is destroy all the evidence here, except for one clue, and then sneak out just as the FBI finish tracking us to this location.

ISLA FISHER

Or we could have done that hours ago and be already gone.

JESSE EISENBERG

Correct. But we also need to fake Dave Franco's death so that he's free to tackle the crucial, super challenging part of the next stage: breaking a mirror with a hammer.

DAVE FRANCO

I guess we could blow the building remotely once the FBI show up, and fake my death that way. Or I could have just never appeared publicly with the group in the first place, since I've contributed utterly nothing.

WOODY HARRELSON

The important thing is not to overcomplicate this.

(pause)

Now if you'll excuse me, in the next ten minutes I have to go steal a city bus, hook a government-issued FBI sedan to the front, rig the bus controls to include a quick-release catch, then drive the actual bus route WITH THE FBI CAR STILL ATTACHED IN FRONT MIND YOU so I can fill it with passengers while also hypnotizing them, and every person we pass by, to not notice anything unusual.

JESSE EISENBERG

Meanwhile I'll put on a fake 70s-porn 'stache to create the single most laughably inept disguise in the history of all film!! And that includes comedies, satires, and Austin Powers movies by the way.

ISLA FISHER

I'll provide cutaway reaction shots!

DAVE FRANCO

And I'll audition for the role of Bullseye!

The FBI arrive and the CHASE begins! MARK and MELANIE CHASE and CHASE and CHASE and CHASE the HORSEMEN until DAVE FRANCO apparently BLOWS UP! MARK'S phone rings.

MORGAN FREEMAN

(on phone)

Hi, Mark? Me again. You suck.

MARK RUFFALO

rrrraaaAAAAARRRGHHHHHH

(clothes begin bulging)

MELANIE LAURENT

(soothingly)

Don't worry, we'll have one more chance to stop them when they enact the final stage of their plan, which will surely be the most awesome spectacle of all, and not yet another safe heist culminating in yet more money falling onto yet another audience.

MARK RUFFALO

According to this clue it starts with stealing a safe.

MELANIE LAURENT

Well, shit.

INT. STUPIDLY LARGE FEATURELESS ROOM DEDICATED TO HOLDING ONE SINGLE SAFE AT THE FAR END

MARK, MELANIE and a bunch of FBI PEOPLE rush just barely inside, only to find...

MARK RUFFALO

Oh crap, from this precise vantage point at the far end of the room, the safe is seemingly gone!! Nobody move too far forward or you might spot your reflection in the top of the supernaturally spotless, streak-free mirror! Also, I'm not the mastermind.

MELANIE LAURENT

You're saying the Horsemen installed a giant slanted mirror to fool us into thinking the safe is gone, so we'd leave it unguarded. Hey, you know what's an even better illusion? THE SAFE ACTUALLY BEING GONE.

MARK RUFFALO

Come on, I'm sure it was far easier to seamlessly weld a thousand-pound mirror into place at a precise angle than attempt the near-Herculean task of putting the safe on a truck.

MELANIE LAURENT

(sighs)

All right, let's go stupidly chase after the decoy safe so they can come get the safe they could already have taken. I swear, if this movie gets any more preposterous I'm gonna... wait, is that Common?

MARK RUFFALO

Yeah, my FBI boss is being played by Common.

MELANIE LAURENT

(projectile vomits)

EXT. OUTSIDE RANDOM WAREHOUSE - THE FINAL MAGIC SHOW

A HUGE CROWD has gathered because the HORSEMEN are now VIRAL SOCIAL MEDIA FOLK HEROES that mete out VIRAL SOCIAL MEDIA FOLK JUSTICE by dumping HEAPS OF MONEY on HUGE CROWDS.

INT. WAREHOUSE

JESSE EISENBERG

I suppose we should take a moment to wrap up our character arcs.

(pause)

Oh, whoops, we forgot to have character arcs. Or characters. Or any reason for the audience to give a shit about any of us. Dammit.

ISLA FISHER

Too late now. It's time to start the show full of nothing but projections and recordings and you know, there's no actual reason for us to be within a thousand miles of here. Or to have three of us.

WOODY HARRELSON

Like I said: Duck Dynasty marathon. By myself. No pants.

The HORSEMEN dump a bunch of FAKE MONEY on the CROWD because ANGRY RIOTS are AWESOME. Meanwhile the FBI finds the REAL MONEY jammed inside MORGAN FREEMAN'S SUV!

MORGAN FREEMAN

(rolls eyes)

Oh that's right, you got me, my plan was to stuff every inch of my SUV so completely full of money there's barely space to squeeze into in the driver's seat, and then drive away nonchalantly in my brim-bursting money car.

(is arrested)

INT. HOLDING CELL

MARK goes inside the for-real, non-magic jail cell to interview MORGAN.

MORGAN FREEMAN

I guess I can tell you in person this time, Mark...

(looks around)

Hey, where'd you go?

MARK RUFFALO

(outside cell)

That's right, I just walked through STEEL FUCKING BARS ASSHOLE! You were about to say I suck, but really it was YOU who sucked. All the time when you thought I was two sucks ahead I was really a suck behind. Because the closer you try to suck, the less you suck the big picture!!

(pause)

Also I'm the mastermind.

MORGAN FREEMAN

So I see.

(pause)

You gonna teleport back in here now, so the guard doesn't wonder how you walked out of a locked cell?

MARK RUFFALO

Nope.

EXT. PARK

The HORSEMEN use their original TAROT CARDS to activate a CYBER-TREE which, yeah, a fucking CYBER-TREE. This achieves NOTHING.

MARK RUFFALO

(appearing)

Ta-da! The mysterious grey hoodie guy... was me!

JESSE EISENBERG

(smugly)

Looks like someone joined the twelve-step program.

ISLA FISHER

Oh shut up, douchebag. This is where we find out if we get into Mark's secret magic society!

MARK RUFFALO

Yes, since you successfully executed a plan that was mapped out in excruciating detail for you, helped only by your main adversary being on your side all along, you are clearly the best magicians ever.

They all get on a MERRY-GO-ROUND that starts ROTATING REALLY FAST and GLOWING REAL BRIGHT and they all become PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS or some bullshit.

EXT. A BRIDGE IN PARIS

MELANIE LAURENT waits patiently on a bridge to hear the remaining explanations.

MARK RUFFALO

(arriving)

It was me all along. My Dad was a magician and Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and the French bank all did mean things to him. Hence my plan.

MELANIE LAURENT

It must be sweet revenge to know the bank's money was insured, Michael Caine has fraud protection, and the case against Morgan will never hold up in court. Remind me again why you needed ironic magic revenge instead of more traditional blow-em-up, shoot-em-down revenge?

MARK RUFFALO

Because my boner for French women is exceeded only by my boner for absurdly elaborate plans, of course!! I mean, do you realize how hard it was to co-ordinate my career path with the timetable of every major crime in America, to be sure of being assigned to my own case?!?

MELANIE LAURENT

I guess that couldn't have been plausible. I mean, easy.

(pause)

So now what? I'm supposed to overlook all your crimes and neglect my duty as an Interpol agent because I think you're cute? That would be a total betrayal of my character, if I had one... and yet, I sense that's exactly what I'm going to do... can't fight it... almost as if I'd been hypnoti-

MARK RUFFALO

HA HA HA WHAT AN ABSURD NOTION let's go I have a room ready.

END