A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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April 28, 2011

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You may recall, if you’ve been following this movie project since the very beginning, that we reviewed a cheesy Nick Cage movie as our fourth or fifth review. It involved Nick’s character knowing the future, and before we put it in I thought that movie (Knowing) was this movie. I was wrong of course, but maybe you can understand my confusion. The distinction is that in Knowing Nick’s character is tortured by the inevitability of the future, in this movie he spends the whole time surfing through the best of all possible futures.

I enjoy the concept at the core of this movie, which frustrates me because I don’t particularly enjoy the movie itself. It involves a man, Cris Johnson, who can see two minutes into the future. Always two minutes. He has a sad sort of life as a two bit Las Vegas mentalist calling himself Frank Cadillac. He’s been eking out a living trying not to draw too much attention to the fact that he knows the roll of any die or the order of the cards as long as the results will be revealed within the next two minutes. When the pressure gets too bad he can make a getaway using his future sight to wend his way through all the possible next two minutes to find the path that leads to freedom.

This is a very cool notion, the idea of seeing multiple outcomes that can result from different paths taken. We’ve seen it already seen it in a couple of my favorite films: Groundhog Day and Run Lola Run. Sadly, with a couple notable exceptions near the end of the movie, this movie doesn’t do a very good job showing Cris navigating the many possible futures. We get to see him taking the miraculously perfect path like Phil Connors at the end of his very long day. We get to see him on a couple occasions slowly going through the alternatives available to him in search of just the right result. Most of the time, however, he doesn’t seem to know what’s going to happen until just before it does happen, and even then he seems surprised. I think that the film makers just couldn’t figure out how to portray this in a way that made sense to the audience.

Call that problem one.

Problem two is that after establishing this cool mechanic they proceed to throw it out the window because there’s this one girl that Cris has seen for some reason who is outside of the normal two minute window. He has seen her coming into a certain diner at a certain time, and he keeps going back there with the hope that this day will be the one where he finally meets her. Apparently there’s something special about this girl Liz. The issue with this is that the movie never bothers to resolve anything about her. Supposedly where Liz is concerned Cris’ power is much enhanced and he can see much further ahead (how far is never made clear) but still he is constantly shocked by things about to happen just seconds into the future.

Then there’s problem three – the whole main action plot of the movie. There’s this group of foreign terrorists who have smuggled a nuke into the US and a sort of female Fox Mulder who knows about Cris and his ability and wants to use him to prevent Armageddon. This FBI agent, Ferris, is obsessed with capturing Cris and forcing him to use his precog powers for the greater good. The terrorists are obsessed with killing him before he can reveal to the FBI the location of their weapon. Of course Liz gets caught in the crossfire. It’s a poorly thought out plot on many levels. For one, Cris very correctly points out that two minutes warning is not going to help much when a nuclear detonation is involved. For another, it’s unclear why both the FBI and the terrorists are so convinced that Cris is the key to their articular agenda. It is a frilly doily of a plot with more hole than material. Most frustratingly the final twist ending resolves absolutely nothing. He does actually want to help stop the terrorists and protect Liz, but I can’t figure out how the events as we see them at the end of this movie have that desired result.

It drives me crazy that this movie is so lackluster. There are hints of the interesting world that Cris lives in, but they’re never explored to my satisfactionn. Take, as a minor and fairly spoiler free example, the moment when Cris picks up a phone and calls Ferris’ cell phone without thinking about it. Well this makes perfect sense – Cris would never dial a wrong number as long as the other party answered his phone. If he can truly see every possible future then he could easily explore every possible phone number until he found the one that worked. Likewise he should be able to instantly hack any password or PIN. There’s just so much potential here, and it saddens me that it isn’t lived up to.

It’s even more frustrating because I really want to see more of Cris and Ferris working together. Ferris is played by Julianne Moore, who gives her a strong and powerful vibe. She’s a woman used to being in command and getting her way. I enjoyed seeing her in action, and felt shortchanged that I got to see so little.

This movie is a tease. It introduces cool ideas and abandons them. It feels like it borrows some of its coolest moments from other movies (like the famous train escape from The Fugitive.) It sets clear rules and boundaries to the supernatural talents that Cris has, and promptly throws them out the window. It leaves me unfulfilled and frustrated, and wishing that it culd have been better done because I so very much love the concept.

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April 28, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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