Everyone enjoys being tricked by an illusionist or magician, be it something seemingly simple like a card trick or something more complicated and jaw-dropping like making the Statue of Liberty disappear. This type of chicanery and intrigue is the basis for Jon M. Chu's new sequel movie Now You See Me 2, which centers on an eclectic group of tricksters known as the Four Horsemen led by Jesse Eisenberg.
This sequel to 2013's Now You See Me sees the four illusionists forced into a heist by a powerful mogul (Daniel Radcliffe), which means they have to pull off an elaborate stunt to clear their names. Hypnotism, sleight-of-hand, card tricks, and all manner of deception is showcased along with driving the narrative so the audience is kept guessing at what's coming next.
Because as we all know, behind every great trick is always a cunning technique which is near-impossible to fathom. Some of the greatest illusions by some of the world's greatest magicians work so well because we're unable to guess how they did it. Sometimes you don't always need to guess though, because sometimes the secrets get revealed.
For instance, there's a Penn & Teller trick from the 1990s which saw Penn drive an 18 wheeler truck over Teller who was lying on the ground. Now, nobody would ordinarily survive such a feat but somehow Teller avoided getting crushed. How? The Secrets of Magic Revealed explains how it happened.
"The opposite side of the truck has had counterweights fitted, out of eyesight and camera shot, of course, pulling all of the weight off the side that is going over Teller." The counterweights meant that there was basically no impact on Teller what so ever, which is why he looks so casual.
A trick like that doesn't actually feature in Now You See Me 2 but there are plenty of elaborate and hugely impressive card tricks. To ensure these were performed convincingly the movie recruited magician and card expert Andrei Jikh to advise the actors and help them practice.
A lot of magic is about doing things accurately with speed—so practice is crucial. Undertaking such complex manoeuvres with ease and finesse is integral to the trick convincing the audience.
An example of this and how deftly some magicians can perform is The Pendragons 'Metamorphosis' trick. Performed definitively in 1986 at the International Magic Awards it showed The Pendragons—husband and wife Jonathan and Charlotte Pendragon—swap places with each other while one is locked in a chest.
You can watch the trick here and once you've seen it you'll wonder just how they managed to switch places all in under a minute. Well The Secrets of Magic Revealed explains, "The secret here is a hidden hole and impeccable timing. There is a hole concealed at the back of the chest, which the audience and camera can’t see. If you take the time to notice, once Jonathon is inside the box, Charlotte takes an awfully long time dramatically sealing and locking box, giving her partner ample time to get out of the bag (through a hidden zip in the bag, of course), and out of the hole in the back of the box. The same goes for when Jonathon is unlocking the box. A lot of theatrics and melodramatic movements are made whilst unlocking the box to allow Charlotte time to get into the box as well as changing outfits! Basically the whole illusion comes down to incredibly quick and in-sync timing from the duo, and a little bit of trick-equipment."
So there you go. There are plenty more classic tricks explained on The Secrets of Magic Revealed from Siegfried & Roy's transition trick of turning a woman into a tiger to David Copperfield's insane "death saw" illusion, to the classic optical illusion trick of linking rings, performed by Richard Ross.
And you can watch the trailer for Now You See Me 2 below.