There’s been the strangest reaction to this film. Despite a fantastic director (Christopher Nolan - him what darkened Batman and gave Pacino insomnia) and a meaty cast (Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Smug Johansson) most critics seem to have taken a dislike to it. Calling it nasty names like ‘boring’ and giving it no stars. But something you must remember is that critics aren’t always right.
Except this one, of course.
Ignore every bad review. They’re idiots. This is a solid, original thriller, handled by a fabulous (British) director and two very strong leads. The story revolves around two rival magicians and their complete and utter obsession with magic. Their obsessions escalate to the point of thieving, sabotage and violence, and through flashback-within-flashback their story is told. There’s magic tricks, romance, thrills, death and a tiny spattering of comedy. What more do you want?
Bale and Jackman are competent front men, Jackman just nudging ahead with a wider variety of emotions, while Bale, though ever brilliant, still has that slightly smarmy mouth that removes empathy a tad. Even Johansson avoids my wrath with an understated performance (well, as understated as you can be dressed in a corset as a magician’s assistant). And Nolan handles the choppy timeframe perfectly. He’s had practice – his first film being the backwards Memento, which was written by his brother Jonathan, who also co-writes the Prestige screenplay. Memento (in my top 5 films) left me reeling with its brilliance, and though The Prestige doesn’t have quite the same impact, it still has a refreshingly original feel to it, especially compared to the current prequel/sequel/franchise movement.
Perhaps the main flaw is in the delivery of the film’s “trick”. Rather than it finish with a “my, didn’t see that coming” blast, it was more a gradual reveal, leading to a “I think it must be… oh yes it is.” But at least it was engaging enough to make you tot up all the clues to begin with, and there were moments where my heart was beating that little bit faster as I anticipated something nasty was about to happen…
The Prestige is a dark, intriguing thriller, with a brilliant cast and director. It’s gaining an extra point for engaging me and teaching me a little bit about magic. Poo to all you nasty critics – this gets CF1.