The Prestige (2006)
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson
Christopher Nolan injects a dark tone to the magician vs. magician tale starring High Jackman and Christian Bale as the two try to one-up each other throughout a decade to perfect a trick called, “The Transported Man.” There is a lot on the line between the two and it drives them to a state of rage, jealousy, and obsession.
Set in Victorian London, Alfred Borden (Bale) is being tried for Robert Angier’s (Jackman) death. Most of the movie is a flashback, going back to when the two started becoming rivals. During an innocent trick involving a knot that Borden ties for Angier’s love, she drowns in a tank of water leaving Angier heart-broken and desperate for answers. When he asks Borden what knot he tied, Borden cannot remember.
Borden goes on to marry a woman (Hall), father a child and find success in his performances. His signature act is “The Transported Man” and if Borden’s perfect life wasn’t enough, the fact that the trick is brilliant drive Angier mad. He devotes all of his time to plot revenge against Borden, first attempting to assassinate him then second, recreate his trick. The two share a very unfriendly rival, involving kidnapping, lying and worst of all, dark magic.
Without a doubt this movie is a crowd-pleaser if you allow yourself to stay focused on the plot-points that unfold. Whether the twist actually surprises you or not, it’s still a very effective thriller with incredible magic-like visuals. You will find yourself rooting for one magician, but only some will change their allegiance during the film. That’s a part of how effective The Prestige works, even on second and third viewings. It’s one that insists you to separate yourself from the characters and allow the story to play out as it was meant to be without any emotional attachments.
Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are strong leads in the film, but Michael Caine shines through every morbid scene for the entire length of the movie. Caine’s Cutter provides the only voice of reason while the two obsessive magicians battle it out until they’re left with nothing. In addition, Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson provide beauty to the screen, but are merely obstacles and victims in the magicians’ ruthless game.
What is so impressive about The Prestige is how easy it is to follow the parallel story-lines of Borden and Angier and how close we get to know their secrets without revealing too much. The two characters become blind to what’s important when their selfish ways plague their lives. There are plenty of illusions and some real magic that takes place and as Borden reminds us to keep watching closely, you must be cautious to not believe everything you see. Or else you could fall for the trick.