Directed by Lee Tamahori. Starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Tory Kittles, José Zúñiga. (2007, PG-13, 96 min.)
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., May 4, 2007
This pseudo-Phildickian actioner is chum for the bigger fish to come this summer; for Moore, it’s a slummer. As Cris Johnson, Cage wears eyeliner and a sort of black pageboy, like Emo Philips – if Emo Philips were bald in front, and if he were a Vegas magician and professional gambler who could see approximately two minutes into the future around him. Cris cheats casinos and steals a prominently placed product vehicle, and it’s all fun and games until some sexy Eurotrash obtain a nuclear weapon and threaten to detonate it somewhere in Southern California. (Why? Because the movie needs them to.) FBI agent Callie Ferris (Moore) will search every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse to get clairvoyant Cris on the case, but he doesn’t want to be caught. Meanwhile, in what feels like an entirely different movie, Cris romances Liz (Biel), who must be a nice girl because she teaches Havasupai children (several of whom surround her gratefully, as if intoxicated by her blond aura and heaving Caucasian décolletage) and jumps into a car with Cris minutes after being stalked by another man. Nothing about the relationship makes sense, and the age difference is not easily ignored. (Haggard, hangdog Cage still chafes as a leading man, and his future should include a return to his Coppola roots.) The only thing about the movie that makes sense is Moore, who snaps, “Get me broadband noise reduction!” and “Get me the head of casino security!” and kicks down doors, as if playing cops-and-robbers on the Paramount payroll. She’s fun to watch. The rest is instantly forgettable. Cage is somnolent in his semiparodistic lowlife cheeseball mode – ladies, he can turn a takeout napkin into a rose! – and even crinkly old wonderful Peter Falk looks like a hologram of himself in a throwaway scene as Cris’ father. More effort has gone into the effects, yet the action amounts to little more than dodging projectiles. I’m very concerned about director Tamahori, who used to make interesting movies about masculinity (Once Were Warriors, The Edge) but doesn’t seem to have a grip on the helm here.