"No One Can Escape Death"
What You Need To Know:
HOUDINI is a wildly entertaining two-part TV series on the legendary magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. Attempting to show the man behind the act, Adrien Brody portrays the complex Houdini, who according to the series, was deeply driven by the love and support that he received from his mother, but was haunted by the failure and disapproval of his father. The child of a Hungarian Rabbi, Harry ran away from home and started practicing magic with his brother. He became very good. As a young man, a dancer named Bess caught his eye whom he eventually married. The two traveled, constantly performing as Harry perfected his craft. One day while accidentally getting a gig at a brothel Harry states that no chains or handcuffs can hold him captive. One of the men in the audience, the local sheriff takes him up on his challenge and handcuffs him. Reluctant at first, Harry goes along and escapes from the handcuffs with ease. The shock of the audience thrills Harry and his life as an escape artist begins.
His names spreads and Harry becomes a celebrity, practicing more and more dangerous stunts, much to his wife’s disapproval. World War I is looming and Harry is approached by a British MI5 agent to be their eyes and ears while traveling across Europe. Believing he can make a difference, he agrees and this creates even more drama and conflict in his life and marriage.
After the war, it becomes more and more difficult to entertain and thrill audiences. His trick s become more dangerous than they’ve ever been and he drifts apart from his wife. When his mother passes away, his whole world crumbles beneath his feet. Obsessed with being able to communicate with his dead mother, attempts to contact her through mediums, but is disgusted when he see the trickery of fake spiritualists. This spurs on a new dedication to debunk every fake spiritualist, even offering cash rewards to psychics that can fool him. This creates a lot of enemies for Harry up until his final performance.
HOUDINI is wildly entertaining. While Adrien Brody doesn’t have much resemblance, if any with the actual Harry Houdini, he’s still compelling. There’s not much of an arc in HOUDINI and the story is heavily episodic as it moves swiftly from one performance to the next. Each performance focuses on new tricks and reveals how Houdini pulled them off with really slick visual effects. The most interesting part of the series is Houdini’s marriage to Bess and how she ultimately stayed with Harry through his philandering and his obsession with escaping death. Even with little story and some rough acting, HOUDINI is engaging and entertaining (though it’s worth noting that much of the miniseries is based on theory rather than fact concerning Houdini’s World War I travels).
HOUDINI ultimately shows a powerful bond between Harry and Bess uplifts marriage even though mistakes are made by both parties. Sadly, the story takes a dark detour into occult spiritualism as Harry tries to connect with his deceased mother. Thankfully, Houdini reveals many of the spiritualists to be fakes, as they are, but he continues to look for the supernatural and never understands that death has been defeated, but it was done by Christ to free us from our sins.
There’s also some foul language, though interestingly, Houdini commonly tells those who are cursing to not be so vulgar. Strong or even extreme caution is advised.