Review

  • ... but I guess that is really beside the point.

    Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play two young British magicians - Alfred Borden and Robert Angier - trying to learn the tricks of the trade, somewhat even allied at first. Borden is a common Londoner, but Angier is to the manor born, using an alias in his magic work so as to not to embarrass his rich Victorian family. In the pursuit of a more fantastic trick a terrible accident occurs and Angier loses somebody close to him, vowing revenge against Borden, whom he holds responsible.

    These two are both the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote to one another. Each one tries to sabotage and learn the other's tricks, make each other look ridiculous, etc. Angier is the more dangerous of the two because he is truly intent on killing Borden when he infiltrates his "catch the bullet" act early on in the film and, instead, maims him. The rivalry ratchets up to increasingly dangerous proportions. It is ultimately a fine piece of drama as to how far these two are willing to go in their obsession and for their art, with them both ultimately living tragic and miserable lives in the process. So much sacrifice for what most people would consider a trivial pastime. It is madness beyond obsession.

    This is a very entertaining and thought provoking film, and there is plenty of foreshadowing. Watch closely and watch it twice. I honestly don't think Christopher Nolan would be capable of linear storytelling if his life depended on it, but he is a master of this adapted material. At the end I could only go - "Brilliant".

    Scarlett Johannson plays Angier's lover who has a pivotal role in how the final act plays out. Rebecca Hall is Sarah, Borden's wife, who can't figure out why her husband seems to only love her on some days. David Bowie lends a real air of mystery to his portrayal of Nikola Tesla. But who else but Bowie could believably introduce his character by walking through lightning? Yes, the Tesla-Edison feud gets incorporated into the film and even a sci-fi angle is thrown into the plot. Michael Caine, as Jackman's magician mentor, seems to be playing his Alfred character from The Dark Knight. He has a supporting role, but watch him carefully, he has some of the most important lines of the film. And his final decision - do you think it was correct? Did two wrongs make a right in this unique situation?

    I wish I could tell you more, but I would give away the plot if I did. This is truly one of the better films made in the 21st century, and I largely don't like films made after 1960. Highly recommended and a real head scratcher, especially given the last line of the film.