Any decent magician knows that when you give away the secret of how the trick is done, the magic goes. So it is with the plot of The Prestige – much of the pleasure of the movie is in seeing the story unfold. Which means I won’t say much about the plot, other than that it is about the bitter, destructive rivalry of two stage magicians (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) in late 19th Century London, and is one of the most intriguing stories I’ve seen.
As well as the plot, The Prestige features a richly detailed setting, the charms of Scarlett Johanssen and class of Michael Caine, and two of the most watchable stars around in Bale and Jackman. There’s small but memorable performances by Andy Serkis and David Bowie too.
Director Christopher Nolan was the man behind Memento, and has produced a similar film here, all fractured time and mystery. Like Memento, the more you think about it the more is revealed, with little clues and moments of foreshadowing slotting into place.
Also like Memento, you realise there’s a few logical loopholes – but nothing to detract much from the film. What is a major flaw is the lack of pace, with the film almost running out of steam about two-thirds of the way through. It picks up again for the finale, but by then its grip has loosened somewhat.
I came out of it wanting to give it 7/10, but The Prestige is such a fascinating tale it lingers with you more than films that had more of an immediate impact. It’s a tale you will be arguing about days later, which says a lot for its quality.