Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Prestige - Movie Review

Watched Christopher Nolan's 'Prestige' today. It's a tale of two magicians in the nineteenth century who start out as assistants to a well known magician before they go on to chalk their own destinies as magicians. The two never get along after a tragedy during their days as assistants when Angier's (Hugh Jackman) wife is killed when a trick goes wrong. Angier suspects that the other assistant magician Borden (Christian Bale) ties her hands in such a way that she cannot free herself in time and drowns in the tank.

Aided by their engineers Cutter (Michael Caine as Angier's engineer) and Fallon, they try to come up with original tricks. Also their animosity makes each one sabotage the others. Borden's trick with the gun costs him two fingers as Angier sabotages it and Borden sabotages Angier's birdcage trick. But when Borden comes up with his 'Transporter Man' trick where he disappears from one place and appears entirely in another in a flash, Angier wants to know how he does that. Cutter insists that there is a double. Angier feels that it is not so simple because the double also has two fingers missing. It has to be Borden.

So he sends his assistant Oilivia to Borden to get the trick. She falls in love with Borden and causes enough friction in his marriage for his wife to commit suicide. Desperate Angier and Cutter kidnap Borden's engineer Fallon to get to the secret. Borden leads them to Nicola Tesla (David Bowie) who is working on some technique to transport items and people. Angier spends a fortune and realises that Tesla really was not Borden's secret really. He had been fooled. Tesla leaves, his lab burnt down by Edison's men, but before going he sends a machine to Angier and advises him to destroy it.

Angier starts performing the 'Transporter Man' in a much more stylised and more dramatic manner and even Borden is stunned to see him disappear amidst crackling lightning and appear across the room in a flash. Borden goes to uncover the secret and tumbles on it almost, when he gets caught watching Angier drown. Borden is tried for the murder of Angier and goes to the gallows. But Angier appears the day before Borden is hanged - as if by magic. Cutter realises that Angier had fooled him to avenge himself on Borden and helps Borden.  And then to make things even more complex, Borden reappears after his execution and kills Angier, taking the suspense to a new high. And then they reveal how it is done, how they did their tricks, how they did the 'prestige' which is the third part of any magic act - when the object that disappears, reappears. It is the 'prestige' that gets the claps and both the magicians seem to have now mastered the art of reappearing again and again.  

As in all Nolan movies, it needs some really careful watching a few times and read some helpful reviews to figure the movie out. And as in all his movies it is an audacious plot, based on a novel by the same name. Great performances all round by Bale, Jackman and Caine. Certainly worth a watch. **** star from me!

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