Blink for more than a second, and you may miss a key component of one the year’s most intense and complex movies – “The Prestige.”The director knows how complex the movie is and starts off the film by asking the audience, “Are you watching closely?”
“The Prestige” is the tale of two magicians, Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman, “X-Men”) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale, “Batman Begins”) who are battling to be considered London’s premier stage show.
The opening narration also informs the audience that each trick consists of three parts: the pledge (where the magician shows us something interesting but familiar), the turn (where the magician transforms the ordinary into something unusual) and finally the prestige (the part in the trick where the audience is wowed by something they have never seen before).
The movie starts out with the two working as stagehands and audience plants at other magician’s shows, and slowly, they want to try edgier tricks and illusions of their own.
They are coached by a wise older man, Cutter (Michael Caine, “Batman Begins”), as he teaches them the ins and outs of the routine tricks, such as escaping from a water prison and catching a bullet from a gun.
The movie takes a turn when their friendly rivalry turns into an all-out war because of a mishap on stage that causes the death of Angier’s wife (Piper Perabo, “Coyote Ugly”) at the hands of Borden.
As “The Prestige” progresses, it becomes obvious that Borden is the more skilled magician but lacks the showmanship of Angier, which limits the reaction Borden draws from the audience.
The movie doesn’t follow the typical chronological order many movies lend themselves to, but instead jumps back and forth as Angier and Borden slowly begin to realize the finales of the other’s tricks.
There are three huge twists at the end of the movie. One you will see coming from a mile away. Another you could expect to happen but don’t know if it will. And the last is the biggest surprise of the movie.
The entire movie just works. From the lighting and directing to the pacing and brilliant acting – most notably by Bale, who embraces the core of his character.
Director Christopher Nolan (“Batman Begins”) helms the movie and brilliantly places clues throughout the movie – giving away the ending to whoever is smart enough to piece them altogether.
The bottom line: Go see “The Prestige” if you want a dark thriller you can play along with, but forgo the drink at the concession stand because you will be kicking yourself when you have to get up and go to the restroom.