Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Prestige

There has not been any Christopher Nolan movie that I have not enjoyed.  The director knows how to tell a story and keeps you quite entertained with a good balance of top rate acting, special effects, and action all to support a very believable story.  The man is also very good at directing movies about obsession.  Like the new Batman series, and another favorite of mine, Memento, The Prestige is definitely a movie about obsession.  Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play two passionate magicians Robert Angiers and Alfred Borden during turn of the century England.

On the verge of going on their own from being accomplices in a dangerous act gone old, Angiers loses his wife during a performance at the reckless hands of Borden.  Borden dismisses it as part of the sacrifice of pursuing a good performance and continues on.  Angiers, of course, who had lost everything swears to out do Borden at every opportunity he gets.  Angiers ignites the war between them when he sabotages Borden's performance and blows two of Borden's fingers off with a gun in the process.

The two continue a bitter struggle of besting and sabotaging one another's acts and lives until it culminates into Angiers obsession with finding the secret to Borden's unmatchable "Transported Man" trick.  The trick has Borden bounce a red rubber ball while entering one of two cabinets quite a distance apart and appearing in the opposite cabinet to catch the bouncing ball as if he had been magically transported from one cabinet to the other instantaneously.  The trick is so great that Angiers is pushed to his limits to best Borden's trick.

After many attempts to come up with his own version of Borden's feat Angiers risks everything to get his hands on Borden's encrypted journal and the keyword "Tesla" which Borden reveals to Angiers is not only the journal's keyword but secret to his "Transported Man" trick.  The journal and keyword lead him to scientist Nikolai Tesla who had been conducting his infamous power transmission experiments in Colorado, America.

The journal talked about a machine Tesla had built that was the key to Borden's trick.  Angiers pays Tesla a fortune to reproduce the same machine for him at which he reluctantly accepts the task which takes him months.  During this time Angiers reads further into Borden's journal where he is thrown into another revelation - that Borden had tricked him again and lead him through the journal to a wild goose chase.  Not knowing if the journal revelation itself was another trick Angiers presses on waiting and Tesla manages to unveil the machine he promises.  At first the machine seemed to not work at all and did not transport several test objects through the air as he believed it would; however, it did something else even more impossible than just transporting.  The machine had duplicated the target object some distance away from the original - any object.  Angiers had his miracle.

Angiers returns to England announcing to his crew he was going to perform his last and greatest show.  The finale of his act would use Tesla's machine to perform his "Real Transported Man" trick where upon disappearing in a crescendo of electrical arcs he would instantaneously reappear at the back of the theater.  The trick is a hit and for once we see now Borden obsessed with finding out Angiers' secret.  Finally after weeks of Angiers' success Borden attends Angiers' show in disguise and sneaks behind stage to find out the secret to the trick.  Borden is surprised to find Angiers trapped in a similar water cabinet that had killed his wife.  Angiers drowns in the cabinet despite Borden's attempts to save him and Borden is subsequently arrested, tried, and found guilty for Angiers' murder and is sentenced to hang.

It is at this point shortly after we are revealed the secrets of both men at the bottom of a run down theater where Angiers hides the secret to his version of the "Transported Man" trick.  Borden who we are lead to believe is hung for Angiers' death finds and shoots Angiers who we at that point find out that he was not apparently killed the night of his last show.  As he is dieing Angiers reveals that he had been using Tesla's machine to duplicate him self a distance away from the machine and using the trap door below the stage to trap and drown the version of him self that would be on the stage.  His crew would then wheel the water cabinet and dead body to the location beneath the run down theater to hide his dark secret.  Borden reveals to Angiers that he in fact had an identical twin brother.  He and his twin had gone to great lengths to play the same man and perform their greatest trick.  The man who had hung was his brother and the Borden that stands before the dieing Angiers had been left to carry out their last act of revenge.  Angiers dies and the remaining Borden turns to raising his daughter in his immediate future.

The twisting and well thought out plot was quite entertaining; however, I find that sometimes cramming it all into the 2.5 hours of a movie results in plot holes which wouldn't have been if more attention was being put into detailing the continuity of the story.  I myself did not catch Borden's explanation of his twin and I was lead to believe for a while after the movie that Borden had used Tesla's machine to produce his double.  Despite a few minor plot holes which were cleared up after much thought and replay I did enjoy this movie.  The movie was told with flash backs flipping back and forth between the two men at different points in time reading each others journals and slowly revealing each others schemes on one another.  The story telling style gave the whole movie the same appeal as the performance of a magic trick.  The casting and acting was top rate which included the likes of Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Micheal Caine, Scarlet Johanssen, and the most surprising of all, David Bowie, as a very believable Nikolai Tesla and Andy Serkis (of Gollum fame from Lord of the Rings) as Tesla's assistant.  The movie is a modern "must watch" on my list and lives up to its punch line of "watch closely".

1 comment:

  1. Good article Mike! Of course thank me for making you watch this movie.