The Prestige is much more than a simple Nolan thriller. This movie is also a beautiful period piece that—between the top hats, steam locomotives, and the slums—perfectly captures the squalor and atmosphere of London during Industrial Revolution. The cinematography is impeccable as Nolan uses wide pans to reveal secrets hidden in scenes and close-ups to show raw emotion.
Jackman’s acting abilities are on full display, as he plays both a suave stage magician and a grief-stricken, furious man. While performing, he flashes his pearly whites and uses his trademark charm to sell his magic tricks with style, despite copying tricks from other magicians. Even as a young stagehand Angier was extremely charming, but the death of his wife unleashes his darker side, and turns his charm into a mere act. Bale taps the same cold and obsessive attitude that he used for Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins to portray the determined and aloof Borden. Even when Borden is talking to his wife, Sarah (Rebecca Hall), during the happier parts of their marriage, his lack of eye contact and fidgeting makes it clear that he is hiding a secret.
Although The Prestige is a magnificent film, it is not without flaws. Despite the fact that The Prestige is one of my favorite movies, it does tend to drag, especially near the climax, which is over ten minutes long and rather confusing. The plot is also non-linear, with both Borden and Angier alternatingly narrating by reading from the other’s old journals. These two factors make the film feel slow. However, Nolan carefully paces the film, choosing to only slowly reveal critical information to the audience and reveal the truth in just the last 10 minutes. Patience pays off as the film delivers a massive twist at the end that redefines almost all the events of the film. The Prestige is perfect for people who want a movie that forces them to think and wonder, while at the same time dazzling them with amazing visuals and a rich plot.