Those dastardly east European terrorists are at it again. They want to blow up Los Angeles, but as always, they don't have a clear agenda as to why. I would have given that some leeway had it been John McClane doing the butt-kickage. But, alas, this time it is Nic Cage. I think it is precisely because Nic Cage is in LA that they want to blow it up. I mean after his latest films, and now Next, I totally empathise.
This is an absolute waste of the first rate writing of Philip K Dick, upon whose prose the film is based, among other things - but I am getting ahead of myself. Let's start by examining what poor ol' Nicky is doing in LA. He plays Cris, a man who can see two minutes into the future. He uses his powers to make money from gambling and doing cheap magic tricks. He also uses it later to sleep with Jessica Biel. BUT, when the FBI comes asking him to save LA from the very terrorists, he refuses.
Speaking of the FBI, Agent Callie (Julianne Moore) is very serious when she says that they need a man who can see 2 minutes into the future to stop the bomb. Really, that's what the FBI wants. Poor Liz (Jessica Biel) is only in for the ride, by the way, and looking smoking, which we must presume was her sole job.
Cris feels that when he is with Liz, he can see up to 2 hours into the future, and hence he must patao her. Which he accomplishes by picking from a host of various future outcomes and impressing her. They are now on the run from the FBI together.
When Callie approaches Liz and convinces her to drug Cris, she does the opposite, which somehow ends up in Liz being strapped in explosives by the terrorists. Now Cris must save LA, because he must save Liz, who is in LA. Mind-boggling.
This is your standard blow stuff up, chase things in cars, have PG-rated sex with a hot chick kind of movie, and it is as dumb as they come. It is openly goofy, and not only for the plot points of FBI wanting to use a pre-cog, but because it often ignores the rules it set for itself in the beginning. Though, in all fairness, the narrative does have some fun with the high concept, like when Cris throws an object at the head of a man who hasn't appeared yet.
The fun Cris has misusing his powers to hit people and hit on Liz is so infectious, you almost wish the film wasn't about the terrorists and the bomb and all that watcha-matcha hoo haa. It borders on the extremely ridiculous when the movie decides to go down that path, and your eyes begin to hurt from all the rolling.
Anyway, by the end of the film, you have been exposed to so many of the fake scenarios in Cris's head, that you don't accept anything for real, until the next set of events takes place. For a movie that treats its central gimmick so sacrosanct, it ends with such a big cop-out that you feel it like a strong hard slap on the face. For all the car-blowing-up fun the film has been having, the end twist is the absolutely the worst way to treat the very, very patient audience.
With the acting from all ends being extravagantly farcical, I really wanted this film to transcend into the so-bad-it's-good territory, but some really inept direction by Lee Tamahori, and some strange plot decisions later, the film ends as a so-bad-it's-bad film - something Lee Tamahori and Nicholas Cage have been doing very well without each other for the past few years. If you think about it, the team-up was inevitable. Of course, it all makes sense now. No wait, it doesn't - that was me thinking about 2 minutes into the future.