Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
How often is it that Edward Norton is a movie's biggest weakness? A role as a stage magician seems well-suited to his calm, trick-up-his-sleeve confidence, but it's that same quality that makes him a cold fish in scenes of passion. That might be a bigger problem if this film was truly the grand romance promised by the commercials, but it's much more of a densely-plotted mystery and police procedural like an Agatha Christie thriller, and as such it's very entertaining. The characters are likeable and reasonably intelligent, and the stage sequences are fascinating, full of wonder and dazzlement that would enthrall a crowd even today, let alone a century ago. What sells them are the special effects, which are so obviously special effects – it's CGI intentionally made to look just a little unreal, as the illusions would seem to their audience. The mystery behind the plot isn't much of one, but movies like this can excel at style and spectacle, and sometimes that's enough. It's a fun mystery and well worth renting.