The film is never less than engaging, though considering that the title The Prestige refers to the moment in a magic act that gives it its "wow" factor, it's kind of a shame that the ultimate "reveal" in the movie is a little too tricky for its own good.
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.
A great contraption of a film, The Prestige is a classy little maze of distractions, obsessions and showmanship, a magic trick of a movie that keeps the viewer mesmerized and then ends with a flourish.
By film's end, the notion of a rational and satisfying climax has hopelessly disappeared in a silly spiral of one-upmanship and a barrage of half-baked revelations that won't make you marvel so much as shrug and forget about them.
Pic insists on a depth of human emotion that isn't developed -- protags emerge as one-dimensional, despite the efforts of two of our best leading actors -- amid increasingly elaborate, uninvolving plot mechanizations.