‘Prestige ‘ is a delightfully intriguing mystery

By Gus Bode

‘The Prestige’ Rated PG-13 Starring: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson Director: Christopher Nolan Run time: 2 hours, 8 minutes

4 Gus Heads out of 4

Hollywood should watch out for Christopher Nolan. He has quickly emerged as one of Hollywood’s best directors.

Advertisement

He first turned the thriller on its ear with “Memento” and then reinvented the Batman franchise with “Batman Begins.” Now, Nolan is back with “The Prestige,” a complex, intriguing and immensely rewarding thriller that weaves a complicated spell to keep the audience guessing.

In the early 1900s, two magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman) start off as friends but quickly become rivals in their quest to be the best magician. When Bale performs the ultimate magic trick, Jackman becomes obsessed with its secret, and this obsession leads both magicians down a dark path filled with deception, twists and turns.

The movie’s tagline, “Are you watching closely?” refers to the three acts of a magic trick: “The Pledge,” which is the trick’s setup, “The Turn,” in which the “magic” happens, and “The Prestige,” in which the trick is resolved. The magician expects the audience to be watching but relies on sleight of hand to make the trick work.

The movie is about magicians, and it gives the moviegoers insight into their world but doesn’t give the audience too much information so they are disenchanted with the world the movie creates.

The film is told out of order, as “Memento” was. Events are shown out of sequence, scenes are only partially shown at first, and a set of journals gives the audience clues. The genius of “The Prestige” is that the structure works to create a palpable tension, and although the style is disorienting at first, the movie will have audiences in its grip once the plot gets going.

Credit art director Kevin Kavanaugh and cinematographer Wally Pfister for the film’s amazing visuals. The sets are evocative, and every scene in the film is wonderful to look at. Nolan’s direction is steady and sure, and the movie is never disorienting in its camerawork or shot choice.

The acting in the movie is also top-notch. Bale and Jackman create two completely human characters whose respective stories are propelled forward by their actions, not the conventions of a plot. Michael Caine is also great as the magician’s mentor, and Scarlett Johansson is the requisite eye candy, but she also gives a solid performance. Movie and music nerds will also eat up the minor roles of Andy Serkis (aka Gollum) and David Bowie.

Advertisement

Potential audiences should find out as little as possible about the movie beforehand, as it is a twisty movie filled with secrets. Its genius is that all the twists fit, and by the end, the audience has a clear idea of what happened and how.

It’s so hard to do a twist ending, but “The Prestige” manages to pull it off. The plot is so airtight that there is no other possible explanation for the film’s resolution. Audiences will be floored by the movie’s various twists, and just when they think they have it figured out, the movie twists again.

“The Prestige” is a masterpiece of suspense that will keep audiences guessing right up to the end. It works because all the elements of film work together to create the movie’s vision, and no weak links are present in the telling of the story. This is sure to be one of the year’s best films.

Advertisement