An Honest Liar (2015) [Review]

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Magic has always intrigued me, ever since I was young getting my first magic set and being rubbish at it, and watching “Greatest Secrets Revealed” on TV as a man in a mask showed everyone how a tank could vanish into thin air. Even now the casual slight of hand of a street magician fascinates me, defying logic before my very eyes as a card with my name on it, that has been folded and unfolded, inserted into a pack of cards by me, suddenly appears to come out of their mouth. With that as a bench mark, escapology and outright risk-takers completely astound me. What annoys me, and clearly annoys James Randi, are those that look to exploit innocent people through trickery and deceit.

This feature-length documentary chronicles the life of “The Amazing Randi”, a world-renowned escape artist and magician, famous for his pioneering feats shocking audiences round the world. However, once he realises the power he has to convince audiences of the pretend reality of the trick, he makes his lifes work to uncover the fraudulent nonsense spouted out from pyschics and spiritual healers, and one person in particular – Uri Geller.

The documentary falls into three acts; the first being that of his history and rise to fame. A thoroughly entertaining piece of work, showcasing his irrefutable talents and timelessness of their appeal. The second is his attack on the pyschics and the battle between him and Uri Geller, a segment that could have been slightly refined, but was intriguing nonetheless. What is perhaps more confusing is that the answers to their actions were fairly predictable, Randi did all he could to shout about them, but what these people do is nothing revolutionary – so it begs the question, why do people fall for them? Finally, there is a strange segment at the end of the documentary, regarding his personal relationship with one of his assistants shown to us earlier in the film. Misplaced, perhaps unnecessarily included, but it added a nice personal layer to a man who throughout the 90 minutes I had grown to admire.

Magic is fun and can be dangerous, but when they start taking your money and people get sick due to false hope, then it’s dangerous to others. Randi was and still is truly unique human, a fantastic magician and the fact he used what he knew to selflessly help people is a testament to the man he is.

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