Year 2, Day 61 - 3/2/10 - Movie #426
BEFORE: Time-travel movies, or stories about people who move through time differently, is the theme - and it's not just about romance. Sometimes they're action movies - last night's film was based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and tonight's movie is based on a book by Philip K. Dick (who also wrote the book "Blade Runner" was based on...)
THE PLOT: A Las Vegas magician who can see into the future is pursued by FBI agents seeking to use his abilities to prevent a nuclear terrorist attack.
AFTER: Again, we have to suspend our disbelief that a man can travel in time, age backwards, or in this case, see two minutes into his own future.
Cris Johnson, aka Frank Cadillac (Nicolas Cage) is a Vegas entertainer with a psychic/mentalist act. All of his tricks, plus earning a good living at blackjack, can be accomplished by his 2-minute clairvoyance. In some situations in the film, this ability is demonstrated by seeing Frank getting shot, or injured in a car-crash - but then that event is revealed to be the possible outcome, and then Frank makes an adjustment in his actions so that horrible event doesn't come to pass.
In the most dramatic use of his ability, we see him using one pick-up line after another to talk to a woman in a diner (Jessica Biel), and from that process he learns that none of them will work, and only the final approach turns out to be the right one, and therefore the only real one.
Cris is pursued by FBI Agent Ferris (Julianne Moore) who needs his ability to help locate a stolen nuclear device - but his powers only reveal his own future, so the only way to help out is to get personally involved. At first he resists, and only gets involved when his powers show him that there is no other course of action that will benefit him - so he's sort of an anti-hero, who mostly has his own best interests at heart.
There's a disappointing cheat at the end, which I won't reveal, but I got the feeling that the screenwriter had painted himself into a corner and had no sensible way of getting out of it.
I did like the visual effects that demonstrated how his powers worked - seeing multiple images of a man working out a way to dodge a barrage of bullets was an original take on the "Bullet-time" seen in the Matrix movies - I actually wanted to see more of this. (seeing a man "thinking" out a plan is not as visually interesting, guys...)
RATING: 5 out of 10 security cameras