Until an inexplicably awful revelation at the end, The Prestige is a taut, exciting portrait of obsession and the dark competitive spirit of professional magicians. Like all of Nolan’s works, successful or not, there’s a brooding ambience present in The Prestige: one thing the film isn’t is uplifting or cheerily hokey. Set in turn-of-the-century London, The Prestige focuses on rival conjurers Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale, who slowly grow to loathe each other: nothing would please either more than to publicly humiliate the other. Thanks in large part to Jackman’s fantastic performance, The Prestige manages to gracefully build its ominous mood as the story progresses, and our loyalties, while more often with Angier, tends to shift back and forth between the fanatical wizards. In many ways, The Prestige plays out like a Shakespearian tragedy. There’s the tormented lovers, murder, betrayal (often of the double and triple twist nature), and operatic tone throughout. Nolan (or the Hollywood suits, whoever had the final say here) gets it right for most of the 139 minute run-time, but the ending is a real head-scratcher: it’s as if Nolan simply reached the end of shooting, and suddenly realized that he had no clue how to tie things together…so he chose the most clichéd route imaginable, which seriously detracts from the impressive product that preceded it. Making it even worse, it’s a blunder that can actually be detected early on by the observant viewer (I know, I know, this runs counterintuitive to what I just said, but take my word for it; you’ll see). Thankfully, The Prestige is strong enough cinema prior to the poor finish to be well worth your time.