The Prestige (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/11/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 128 mins

Impressively directed and superbly acted, this is an engagingly twisty thriller of the kind that makes your head hurt afterwards.

What's it all about?
Are you watching closely? Directed by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins) and based on the novel by Christopher Priest, The Prestige stars Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as Alfred Borden and Robert Angier, two rival magicians in Victorian London. The two men begin as apprentices under the tutelage of wily ingenieur Cutter (Michael Caine) but, after a tragic accident they become obsessed with discovering each other's secrets and sabotaging each other's acts.

The Good
The title refers to the final stage of a magic trick and the film is cleverly structured to mimic the same stages, helpfully laid out by Caine in the opening scenes. The ingenious script uses mixed up chronology, flashbacks within flashbacks, unreliable journals and all manner of narrative misdirection as it builds towards its final flourish, but you always know where you are in the story.

Bale is terrific as the gruff, working class Borden, who knows he's the better magician but who lacks Angier's command of the stage. Jackman is equally good as the charming showman, perfectly conveying Angier's slide into grief-fuelled obsession.

The Great
The supporting cast are excellent, particularly rising British star Rebecca Hall as Borden's wife, Sarah and David Bowie (looking disturbingly like Ricky Gervais) in a bizarre turn as mysterious scientist Nikolai Tesla. Only Scarlett Johansson lets the side down with a dodgy Cockney accent, but she looks fabulous in her costumes so we'll let that slide.

Half the fun of The Prestige lies in trying to second-guess the twists and the script provides plenty of clues throughout. However, though inveterate twist-spotters might spot one or even two of them, it's a safe bet that there's at least one mind-blowing surprise that will remain just that.

Worth seeing?
This is a thoroughly entertaining thriller that'll make you want to see it again immediately afterwards. Recommended.

Film Trailer

The Prestige (12A)
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Content updated: 14/12/2017 09:45

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