Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 23 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Most people would relish the power to know what’s going to happen in the future, with the added perk of being able to do something about it. Kids call them do-overs. Some would find it a melancholy burden, believing that ignorance truly is bliss. Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage) has a viewpoint that combines the two schools of thought.
Cris knows what’s coming next – but only within a two-minute window, and only as it relates to himself. The small time Las Vegas magician, stage name Frank Cadillac, usually low-key and unassuming, uses his power to win adequate but not outrageous amounts of money at the gaming tables, while his livelihood consists of wowing audiences with his B-grade show.
His skill has not gone unnoticed. Casino security, the FBI, and an international mix of terrorists (French, Asian, and German, all ruthless, one-note sociopaths harboring a stolen nuclear weapon) want him for different reasons. Two of the groups need him alive – one would like his existence to end. Can you guess?
Fortunately, Cris’s innate two minute warning makes him next to impossible to capture, although all are trying. From nearly the very beginning of the film, our clever clairvoyant is on the run from some type of organization. The good guys and bad guys track his every move. The terrorists want to detonate the stolen bomb somewhere in Los Angeles; FBI agents are desperately searching for Cris and the bad guys, in that order. Casino security backs off, when one of them has an encounter with a few terrorists. The field narrows, but Cris is still the focus.
Only Las Vegas resident Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel) for some reason never explained, can extend Cris’s clairvoyant capability into hours and days ahead. Trouble is, he hasn’t met her yet. He only knows that they must meet. This will happen at 8:10 (am or pm unknown) at a certain diner. He waits for weeks until she finally arrives one morning.
As required by Hollywood standards, Liz must be beautiful – not just physically – she must do something selfless and worthwhile like teaching kids on an Indian reservation. She and Cris must have sex within 24 hours of meeting. This changes history – and both their lives. As Cris says, “Every time you touch the future, it changes.”
And touch it he does. You may be dizzy and a bit annoyed at all of the false stops and starts presented. Faux and valid linear events intermingle at an alarming pace.
FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) is a tedious, no-nonsense investigator – her lack of make-up proves it. Humorless and determined, she dogs Cris, who is reluctant to help her apprehend the terrorists or pinpoint the bomb. The ever so earnest Cris, sporting a Prince Valiant haircut sans bangs is a likeable fellow who just wants to be left alone. Damn it, now he’s got to save Los Angeles.
I enjoyed the little moments of the film much more than the big international terrorist plot or the tedious FBI drones that are always the last to “get it”. Scenes that worked for me dealt with insights and small insights and surprises – how Cris proves his power to Liz and the clever way he continually uses it.
Two scenes where director Lee Tamahori got it right show Cris thwarting a robbery/murder and successfully evading capture, and his bumbling attempts to meet Liz under just the right circumstance. Both end up with him getting into more trouble than he bargained for. The good guys are chasing him; the bad guys are chasing him. He chases after Liz. He’ll only consent to help the FBI and save the city because his main squeeze is in it. What he’s really like is to go back to his small life, undiscovered, and with a new plaything. Do we like him or not? It’s hard to tell.
Chris’ power makes for some ingenious opportunities regarding special effects. He constructs an avalanche, makes clever preceding remarks to violent occurrences, and is so used to being wanted that he can joke about it as he weaves through dangerous, bullet-filled pursuits, sure footed as a mule. There’s a scene where he’s literally beside himself, and you’ll want to laugh at an inappropriate moment. It all looks incredibly exhausting, but at least captures the viewer’s attention. How you will process the ending could vary wildly. Most of the audience at my viewing let out a groan.
The three principles reprise former, better roles. Cage has been in two films with Vegas in the title. Biel has already hitched her wagon to an illusionist, and Moore only had to retrieve Clarice Starling’s FBI badge from the prop department. You’d think that practice would make perfect for this trio, but it seems that they’ve already done their best work and are now trying to coast.
My guess is that by the final scene you’ll yell out the title and really mean it.