Two new films explore fictional fringe groups that take social justice into their own hands. The capers, The East and Now You See Me, offer 21st century Robin Hood-type plots where young vigilantes target corporate greed.
The underground organization called "The East" warns before it attacks: “Change your ways or pay the consequences.” Its members don't kill, not directly anyway.
Instead, they turn the corporations’ practices against them. They feed CEOs their tainted medicines. They force them into rivers their companies’ pollute.
Ellen Paige plays Izzy, one of the radicals. Brit Marling plays Sarah, a corporate spy who goes undercover to infiltrate “The East” in order to expose its members. She ends up joining the group instead.
“When we started shooting the film a week before Occupy Wall Street blew up, we were so excited," said Marling, who also co-wrote the script. "We felt like, ‘Oh gosh!’ We were telling a story that is really prescient and what people are feeling.”
Now You See Me also has a star-studded cast which includes Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Woody Harrelson. The film addresses corruption in the banking system and its collapse in 2008.
"The story [is] about these magicians who are recruited by this kind of secret organization to pull off these incredible heists where they are actually stealing money from corrupt business people and distributing it back to people who have been stolen from," said Jesse Eisenberg who plays Atlas, the leader of famous illusionists. “There is some kind of social justice that they are stealing from people who have stolen from others and giving money back to people who have rightfully deserved it.”
Whether one agrees with vigilante justice or not, these two films entertain by giving audiences the illusion that it's payback time.