"I've seen every possible ending. None of them are good for you."
It's one of the ultimate ironies that uninspired Hollywood types continually plunder the back catalogue of one of the most creative and innovative science fiction writers, Philip K. Dick, to only end up churning out more tiresome Hollywood ‘product'. Only a few truly talented filmmakers (Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg) have ever managed to touch the magic and genius of Dick's work (Blade runner and Minority Report), where many lesser talents (or just directors for hire) have so miserably failed. Lee Tamahori joins this long list of directors who have so spectacularly failed to grapple the twisted brilliance of Philip K. Dick.
Since emerging from obscurity with the critically applauded 'Once were warriors', Kiwi director Tamahori has been absorbed into the studio system, churning out paint by numbers movies of continually inferior quality. Initially making some interesting choices in films such as 'Mulholland Falls' and 'The Edge', while not completely successful, they did however display an ability to tell a compelling story while displaying some originality of vision. Recently however he has grappled formulaic franchises, directing 'Die another day' and 'XXX: The next level'. Which makes me wonder, has Tamahori simply developed a reputation as a hack for hire who can turn anything in on budget (regardless of quality or originality), or is this a skilled director who has simply been neutered by the Hollywood studio system? On the basis of next, I fear the later is no longer the case.
In a sadly squandered premise, clairvoyant Vegas magician Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage), hides his ability to see 2 minutes into the future in plain sight, as part of his low rent magic act, while waiting to meet the mysterious girl of his dreams (or should that be visions). After inexplicably coming to the attention of the FBI, Agent Farris (Julianne Moore) is in hot pursuit, in the hope that Chris can use his abilities to prevent a nuclear attack on the U.S. As any viewers of 24 can attest to, Los Angeles is a natural target for terrorists wishing to detonate a nuclear bomb. Seeing as how L.A. is neither the seat of government nor the financial centre of America, or anything important like that (unlike a legitimate target such as Washington DC or New York city), one can only presume that Hollywood is the real target and after watching this sad excuse for a movie, I have to say I'd have some sympathies for the terrorists cause if that is the case. Who knows, Hollywood might as well be the target, as all we know about the terrorists is that they are a group of highly skilled French & Germans, devoid of any discernable motivation but strangely willing to martyr themselves in a nuclear blast without making their cause known. They also miraculously know and believe that the FBI's best chance of catching them lies with an obscure Vegas act. The plot is nonsensical rubbish at best.
While Nicolas Cage frequently wastes his talents on turgid movies, it's such a shame to see Philip K. Dicks premise squandered so ludicrously. While it starts off promising, with Cris skilfully out manoeuvring a Vegas casino's security system and staff, it quickly goes down hill, typically relying on poor CGI 'thrills' rather than cleverly exploiting such a rich concept.
So will Cris work with the FBI to hunt down Russian supplied European terrorists waging a Jihad on Hollywood and save the day? Despite one clever twist, you don't have to be clairvoyant to see how this is ultimately going to end. If I had the ability to see 96 minutes into the future, I think I'd have saved myself wasting 96 minutes of my life watching Philip K. Dick’s legacy being treated with such contempt.