Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. To talk more about the movie's layers is to risk giving away too much. I'll say only that this film confirms Nolan's status as the director whose work I look forward to more than any other.
  2. 88
    Nolan directs the film exactly like a great trick, so you want to see it again the second it's over. I'd call that wicked clever.
  3. 88
    The film's prestige is a doozy, both dazzling and preposterous, but if you're watching closely -- as Cutter advises in the film's first few minutes -- it's flawlessly set up.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A visually stunning, startlingly clever sleight of hand that will have audiences pondering well after the lights go up.
  5. The Prestige isn't art, but it reaps a lot of fun out of the question, How did they do that?
  6. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    The Prestige traces the course of their bitter feud, as their respective acts of sabotage become ever more deadly.
  7. The Prestige does more than focus on magicians. It is so in love with the romance, wonder and ability to fool of stage illusion that it becomes something of a magic trick in and of itself
  8. 80
    Stuffed with hard-working actors, sleek effects and stagy period details, The Prestige, directed by Christopher Nolan from a script he wrote with his brother Jonathan, is an intricate and elaborate machine designed for the simple purpose of diversion.
  9. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Take the movie's first words to heart: watch closely. You'll be well rewarded.
  10. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    The Prestige is utterly without pretense. It doesn't want to explore epistemological questions about the nature of perception and memory; it just wants to mess with our heads. And as a wily, slightly sadistic chess game of a movie, it succeeds quite nicely.
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    For all the film's murky misdirections, it is very enjoyable. That's because Nolan's recreation of the illusionists' backstage world is so marvelously detailed, including as it does revelations of how some of their best tricks are accomplished.
  12. 80
    Bale and Jackman inject their reliable charisma into two otherwise very cold fish. Okay, I'll say it: If you see only one magic-at-the-turn-of-the-century movie this year, make it this one.
  13. 75
    Christopher Nolan's The Prestige has just about everything I require in a movie about magicians, except ... the Prestige.
  14. 75
    Nolan, who has become an assured, stylish filmmaker in the span of only a few films, keeps the complicated plot spinning.
  15. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's like "The Illusionist" crossed with a really hard Sudoku.
  16. [Nolan is] back in the fine engineering business, crafting a story as intricately designed as a magician's lock, tightly packed with tumblers of deception and issuing a fun challenge to any volunteers in the audience: Just try to pick it.
  17. It's a gorgeous, strange little piece -- but I did find myself wishing it poked fewer aces out its sleeve after urging us to pay such close attention.
  18. In the end, there's enough movie magic in The Prestige to keep you guessing, even after the film's over.
  19. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    The result is a lopsided yet absorbing movie in which the director is less drawn to his main characters than to those on the periphery.
  20. 67
    For all its surface dazzle, The Prestige shares with this year's earlier "The Illusionist" a certain core hollowness. Maybe that's a natural consequence of even the best magic shows: You can't help but feel duped.
  21. Many, I suspect, will fall for The Prestige and its blend of one-upsmanship and science fiction. I prefer "The Illusionist," the movie that got here first.
  22. By describing the structure of a great trick in a movie about a great trick, The Prestige makes a promise it can't keep. Its third act is about as convincing as a photo of a cow jumping over the moon.
  23. 63
    On the M. Night Shyamalan scale of stupid endings, The Prestige isn't as bad as "The Village" but it's comparable to "Unbreakable."
  24. 63
    There's plenty going on but never any real magic.
  25. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    If The Prestige is something of a let down as a magic trick, it's more successful as a tale of obsession. The rivalry between the magicians is brutal and bloody and Bale and Jackman do their best work when they're plotting each other's downfall.
  26. If you can forgive some woeful casting and a plot that is as creakingly thin as an old staircase, you can enjoy director Christopher Nolan's The Prestige.
  27. Audiences might enjoy this cinematic sleight of hand, but the key characters are such single-minded, calculating individuals that the real magic would be to find any heart in this tale.
  28. Jonathan and Christopher Nolan's adaptation of this novel by Christopher Priest offers three acts of exasperating muddle.
  29. Reviewed by: Mark Bell
    When all is said and done and you get the full explanation of what meant what and who did what to whom, it's not fulfilling at all. It's a magic trick that's all showmanship and craft, but lacking true whimsy, ultimately failing the audience.
  30. 50
    Truth itself is little more than a word in The Prestige, a film that both celebrates the wonder of being fooled and the foolishness of wanting just that.
  31. 50
    The Prestige is a trick box with too many false bottoms. Ultimately, the last one simply gives way -- leaving us with a hole, and a little residual darkness, but not much else.
  32. The tit-for-tat scenario ought to be wildly entertaining, but the magic is crude, the characters flyweight, and the story protracted and unpleasant.
  33. 50
    "The Illusionist" also centers on a 19th-century magician, and the elegant contours of its story are even more impressive compared with Nolan's clutter of double and triple crosses.
  34. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Clearly, director Nolan is aiming for something else. But the delight in sheer gamesmanship that marked his breakout "Memento" doesn't survive this project's gimmickry and aspirations toward "Les Miserables"-style epic passion.
  35. Thus, we find ourselves watching an ice-cold movie about competition that contains not a shred of rooting interest.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 523 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 6 out of 142
  1. Jan 12, 2011
    what a movie! omg! no doubt, Chris Nolan is one of the best in the game! the cast, the plot, the twists..wonderful! genius..i'm speechless right now,i..i..i was blown away...vuf..100 out of 10! 100!!!!! Full Review »
  2. Mar 31, 2014
    The viewer is allowed to question and ponder throughout The Prestige, but Nolan doesn't undermine the audience when he gives them the oppourtunity to know the answer from the beginning. A perfect equilibrium in mystery storytelling. The acting may not be at its best, but it is saved by the charm and faults of both lead roles and Michael Caine takes the torch of guide and accomplice with undaunted and unstated pride. If it were not for a vapid 'Love B' story, this film could be argued to be the best of 2006. This is and will be Nolan's 'grows on you' film. Full Review »
  3. Mar 13, 2014
    Really good film. Did not understand but that was certainly the point; to blur the line between illusion and reality. In thst way, the film is a huge magic trick as it leaves you wondering how they just pulled off what they pulled off and what reality actually is. In that way, this film is a major accomplishment. Nolan is really on the top of his game here. Bale and Jackman were also great leads and while they were not in a ton of scenes together, they were undoubtedly dominated the screen. Another major plus was the costume design and the sets. As a period piece, they did a great job establishing the feel of the era. I also liked the undercurrent of rivalry in everything in the film. It was a really nice touch.

    Main complaint is that it was very hard to follow since it jumped around a lot. This was a huge problem in the beginning, but by the end, more things made sense. But, the editing bothered me a lot as scenes seemed to be a mishmash with little care put towards continuity and flow.
    Full Review »