Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Death Defying Acts


Catherine Zeta-Jones and Saoirse Ronan are mother-and-daughter con women who set out to hoodwink Harry Houdini (Guy Pearce) out of the $10,000 prize he has offered to anyone who can tell him the last words his beloved mother spoke to him. Not easy, since Harry has been exposing fraudulent psychics for a long time and knows all the tricks. Then, of course, love rears its head. This movie never really achieved much focus, couldn’t seem to figure out where it wanted to go. It has all the expected trappings, such as the manager who keeps telling Harry to stop taking all these insane risks—bullshit; Houdini always knew exactly what he was doing, and was seldom in any real danger. It even gets the ending wrong, the famous sucker punch that burst his appendix. But once more I’m deeply impressed by young Saoirse Ronan. Here she has a deeply Scots accent, and in The Lovely Bones I totally bought her as an American. I hope she doesn’t suffer the hideous fate of so many talented child actors.