Complete A-Z list

Prestige, The


Stars: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine

Director: Christopher Nolan

All smoke and mirrors but little substance, with a rather confusing flashback structure, this is a tale of rival magicians (Jackman, Bale) at the turn of the (old) century.

Both in pursuit of the ultimate deception, they fall out and go their separate ways after Bale may have been responsible for the death of Jackman's wife (a brief role for Piper Perabo) in an on-stage trick that went (rather unconvincingly) wrong.

Jackson is the sophisticate, skilled in showmanship. Bale is more the tough of the track, a superior magician, but artless in the presentation of his material.

There is a twist in the tale, of course, as well as another show-stealing appearance by Caine, in his new guise of WOMS (Wise old man of the screen) and a rather insignificant one by Johansson. But, and certainly at this length, it's all a bit boring, if briefly enlivened by David Bowie and Andy Serkis as owners of the Transported Man illusion that both magicians covet. This is where the film veers off in the direction of the supernatural.

Since neither of the leading characters is very sympathetic, it's difficult to grasp a core to the story, which seems to exist on its own fringes, while its grip slips away like the elusive secret of an illusionist's trick.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
130 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 05 Nov 2006