It lays the material for the Bale-twist early, from the little nipper "What happened to his brother?" through all that "Today you mean it" stuff. The first example of the transported man, when he takes Sarah home then appears inside her house, should maybe have tipped me off. Also it's a scene that you think back on and go "heeeey.... actually that's really creepy"
The thing is, though, that if you do start to guess that twist (I started to twig at the scene in the restaurant, when he talks about how Allan(?) protects everything he holds dear), the laying of material does go on and on and on. And the mirrored do-you-see "No, I knew you would read my diary!" twists are a bit dickish.
I was hoping for there to be a consistent pattern of which Bale was which (and clearly the one that got caught was the true technician, the other one warned him not to return), but it strengthens the angle if they were that dedicated to the schtick that they'd take turns letting the other one shag their love.
I knew about the Jackman-twist because I am a stupid curious monkey, though one of my companions did say that the mention of Jackman's posh past together with the early appearance of the lord that was buying up Jackman's estate did cause bells to ring.
I was initially annoyed that they kept playing it as mysterious despite having shown us the trick, but I suppose that was in service of the final twist. Which I loved for about half of my cycle home. Obviously you don't need the machine to actually work more than once to do the trick - one you've got a double, you're set. But the idea of Jackman as someone who dies every night because it's a chance to do real magic (and because he's learned his lesson about Rupert) is fantastic.
Also I did love Rupert, particularly since I was for a second going "How does he...? Oh yeah, acting".
But then I realised that the real reason for the twist is the more plotty revenge one - he kills himself every night, because one night, Bale will be there.
Either way, the Nolanesque center of the film, that line about "every night I would wonder if I'd be the one in the box or the one appearing" makes no sense. Surely, if you're alive you're the one that appeared last night, and will die tonight?
Also it was great to see that they were Wolverine vs Batman - charm and fury against precision.
In the end, I saw it for £4.50, and there were at least three £1.50 moments in the film:
- Bale doing the "roll the penny across your fingers" trick with his wedding ring on the tips of his fingers (did he learn this, great method man that he is, or did they have someone else's hand AAH like David Bowie in Labyrinth, DO YOU SEE?)
- The moment that slapstick and comedy share, where you recognise what's going to happen a split second before the people on screen do, another split second before it happens: Bale lays his disfigured hand on the cage trick.
(Incidentally, given their storied history with funny disguises etc, why did Bale think that Jackman would let him within a mile of the stage that last time?)
- Bale's antics on stepping out of the door that Jackman stepped into.
- BONUS: realising that David B(owie) with that haircut and mustache looks exactly like David B(rent).
Special section for those I watched the film with (friend_of_tofu, alextiefling, janieluk and envoy):
Ricky Jay, played Milton, who I think was the magician they were plants for when Jackman's wife died. Ricky Jay is the world's greatest historian of magic, and one of the top three or four close-up magicians. There's a fanstatic biography in a book called Life Stories, my copy of which is currently out on loan. When I get it back I may try and foist it on some of you so you understand, but really you should buy your own, it is solid gold from start to finish. Anyway!
Sarah was played by Rebecca Hall, she hasn't been in much nor did I think I recognised her, but she looked cute and interesting, putting her a notch above Mss Johansson and Perabo. Though I don't think even her will persuade me to see Starter for 10.
Ackerman, the agent who gets Jackman his last gig, was played by Edward Hibbert, who played Frasier's coworker Gil Chesterton.
And finally Owens, the gent who visits Bale in prison, is played by Robin Rees. He's been a lot of people in a lot of things, including the Sherrif of Rottingham in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, but he will to me always and forever principally be Lord John Marbury in The West Wing.