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 583 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 6 out of 151
  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. Dec 8, 2013
    I am outraged that this movie received a single, let alone 447 positive reviews. I cannot use foul language here, as much as I feel the urge, so I will just say this: shame on all of those who gave this movie a positive review, regardless of whether they did it because they are stupid or just because they are liars. I can't afford to waste two hours like this anymore, and I would like a warning before I see a dumb plotted, predictable piece of excrement like this one here. Who could have imagined that one guy had a twin brother, and that true magic would come about produced by none other than Nikola Tesla?! And the lead characters' motives, ridiculous. At first he hates him because he caused his wife's death, but then he couldn't care less any more about his wife, he just wants to ruin his act and steal his lousy tricks. The other guy reciprocates wholeheartedly. If you wondering who he is and who the other he is, you weren't paying attention. It's completely unimportant. Who cares. It just an awful, awful, aaaawful movie. If you haven't seen it, I envy you. Stay away!!! Full Review »
  3. RayH
    Nov 27, 2006
    This movie was all around a pretty good movie. It was extremely dark, and some of the scenes were a bit disturbing. The plot kind of rambled on to make this movie way too long. An hour and a half would have been alot better. The twists in this movie are confusing and it makes you think too hard.The movie did have some cool things in it and has a very surprising ending. It was not the best movies I've ever seen, but it was good enough to keep me from leaving the theater for as long as it did. So it must have done something right. Full Review »