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The Ending Of Now You See Me Explained

There's a line in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige that does a pretty good job of summing up an audience's relationship with a magic act: "You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled." The same sentiment could be applied to twist endings in movies. Think about how many times you've heard people discussing a film, only to say, "You could see the twist coming from a mile away." We want a surprise. We want something that's going to subvert our expectations, and that's precisely what another magic-themed film — 2013's Now You See Me — does. 

The movie follows a group of four magicians, Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), as they perform various stunts that come at the expense of the rich and powerful to help those who have been hurt financially. It's all in greater service of proving their worth to a mysterious organization known as The Eye, which leads to their greatest stunt to date: stealing a safe containing millions of dollars owned by Elkhorn, a company that makes safes. It culminates in a shocking twist that completely changes how you view the movie upon rewatches. 

Even after the Four Horsemen pull off the magic trick to end all magic tricks, there's still quite a bit that happens. If you find yourself more confused at the end of Now You See Me than after watching a Criss Angel show, here's everything you need to know.

Now You See Me pulls twist upon twist upon twist

A lot happens in the final 15 minutes of Now You See Me, so it's important to pay attention. 

The first twist that happens is the revelation that Jack isn't actually dead. Earlier in the film, we see him lose control of a getaway vehicle, and he presumably dies in the ensuing flames. Of course, that turns out to be one of the Horsemen's signature tricks, which he pulled off using an identical car and someone else's corpse, but that's only just the beginning of blowing your mind.

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) meets with Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) in jail, whom authorities believe was part of the final heist. As Dylan slowly walks away, it's revealed that he orchestrated everything we saw previously. He assembled the four magicians to pull of the various heists, and it was all in service of getting revenge on Thaddeus, whom was his father's partner back when he was a magician before he betrayed him by revealing how he did his magic tricks. In an attempt to win back the public's favor, Dylan's father, Lionel Shrike (Elias Koteas), performed a dangerous stunt where he locked himself in a safe and submerged himself in water, but he passed away. This all leads to the grandest reveal of all, namely Dylan is a member of the mysterious Eye organization, and he officially welcomes the Four Horsemen into his ranks. 

Dylan's job at the FBI was a long con the entire time. Everything that happens is a result of Dylan wanting revenge for everyone who played a hand in his dad's death. Thaddeus destroyed his career, Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) owns the insurance company that failed to pay money after Lionel's demise, and Elkhorn made the faulty safe. 

Now You See Me's mid-credits scene

If you've only seen the theatrical version of Now You See Me, then you might be asking yourself, "What mid-credits scene?" For those of you who purchased the Blu-Ray, you all were treated to an extended cut of the film, which includes a bonus scene partway through the credits.

The scene in question shows the Four Horsemen driving out to a junkyard in the middle of the desert. There, they come across a massive collection of boxes all with the signature mark of The Eye on them. There's then an exchange where Henley tells them to take out their cards, but Merritt's confused as to what she's talking about. What she's referring to is the fact they were all given tarot cards earlier in the movie that allowed them to access information and gear from The Eye. They need those same cards to access what's in these crates, and it's clear Merritt has forgotten his. 

It's understandable why this scene was cut from the film. It doesn't really do much to set up Now You See Me 2 other than the fact these four would continue working together on future adventures. It's probably for the best that the sequel didn't include its own post-credits scene, though — as it's seeming less and less likely that Now You See Me 3 will ever get off the ground. 

Is magic real in Now You See Me?

Some of the tricks in Now You See Me genuinely make it seem like the characters are wizards capable of defying the laws of physics. However, as the film asserts time and time again, anything is possible with adequate preparation.

The idea of how to make magic tricks seem like wizardry can be seen in the story of Lionel Shrike. Years ago, he had a man sign a card. He then planted that card inside a tree and allowed the tree to grow around it. 20 years after the fact, he did a trick where he had the same man pick and sign a card, and then he cut the tree down to reveal the card inside. 

When considering how everything that happens in Now You See Me seems like genuine magic, it's important to remember that Dylan has spent 30 years getting everything in place. He truly took after his father in playing the long game, so when it came time to actually put his tricks to use, it came across as miraculous. Granted, there are some tricks that don't get much of an explanation in the film — and thus, really seem impossible — but perhaps we shouldn't be asking too many questions. It's like Thaddeus says in the film, "I suggest you sit back and enjoy your front row seat. You paid quite a lot of good money for it." Figuring out the tricks only takes away from their power. Sometimes, it's preferable to accept a magic trick for what it is.