If Philip K. Dick could have seen into the future, he would never have agreed to have his story “The Golden Man” be adapted into a movie, at least not this movie.
Nicolas Cage, who also produced, plays Chris Johnson, a low-rent Las Vegas magician whose ultimate act of prestidigitation is hiding one very special ability behind a bunch of “$50 tricks.” He can see into the future. Not much — only two minutes ahead. And not for anyone else’s future — only his own. But he can see far enough ahead to dodge a punch — or a bullet. And if, for example, he wants to meet a pretty girl sitting by herself in a restaurant (Jessica Biel as Liz), he can project into the future several different approaches and Groundhog Day-style find the one that will produce the desired results.
It isn’t just because she is pretty that he wants to meet her. It is because for the first time he has seen more than two minutes into the future. He has seen her, and he wants to know what that means.
Callie (Julianne Moore) is an FBI agent with a lot of hair who barks a lot of orders about securing perimeters and takes time for target practice in the middle of a major crisis involving a missing nuclear device and some nasty terrorists who may be planning to set it off. Maybe Chris can help! She’d better put him in one of those A Clockwork Orange eyelid-propping contraptions and see if he can figure out a way to dodge a very, very big bullet indeed.
Time for drastic measures — like tossing away any Constitutional rights and getting that hair under control.
“What about intel?” someone asks. “We don’t need it,” Callie snaps. “We have HIM.” You don’t need to be Chris to forsee we’re in for a lot of bang bang and the obligatory shooting of the black secondary character is mere moments away.
This movie has one sensational stunt, but there’s a boy-who-cried-wolf aspect with too many fake-outs. Eventually, the goodwill of the audience is worn out. I can see 96 minutes into the future of everyone who buys a ticket for this film and forsee that they will be disappointed.
Parents should know that this film has a lot of intense peril and violence, including terrorism, shooting, explosions, bombs, car crashes, attempted drugging, and punches. Most of it is “action-style,” meaning that there is not much blood. There is very brief bad language, much less than usual for a film of this genre. There is also a non-explicit sexual situation, again with less detail than typical for a PG-13. Some audience members may be disturbed by the themes of the movie, including terrorism and violations of Constitutional rights.
Families who see this movie should talk about the advantages and disadvantages of being able to see into the future.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy two others based on stories by Philip K. Dick, The Brave Little Toaster (for all ages), and Blade Runner (for mature teens and adults). They will also enjoy Cage’s better action films, The Rock and Con Air.