Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage) can see two minutes into the future and uses his gift as a small-time magician in Las Vegas, where he supports his income with modest gambling wins in the casinos. One time, however, he had a vision of a woman walking into a diner and he shows up there at 8:09 twice a day every day, hoping to be present when she appears.
He is being watched by NSA agent Callie Ferris (Juliane Moore) who wants his help to stop terrorists from setting off a nuclear bomb. But before she can approach Cris, he runs afoul of Casino Security. He uses his powers to elude them and the Las Vegas Police and skips out moments before Ferris arrives at his place. That night the Casino Security Chief is approached by a pair of terrorists who want to know about Cris. Then they kill the Security Chief.
The next morning, Cris is at the diner as usual and the woman he is waiting for turns up. Her name is Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel). He considers various ways to approach her and they turn out badly until her ex-boyfriend, who is stalking her, appears and Cris allows himself to be sucker-punched by him. He knows she is headed for Flagstaff, Arizona, and he maneuvers her into giving him a ride. Ferris and the FBI trail him and the terrorists follow, hoping to kill him.
The road is blocked by a landslide and they end up in a hotel. Ferris convinces Liz that he is dangerous and asks her to drug him. She warns him instead and he proves his powers to her by switching channels on TV and reciting every word before it is spoken. She is the only exception to his two-minute precog limit. He is captured by the FBI and the terrorists capture Liz.
He sees Liz being blown up with a bomb-vest and agrees to help. He works his way through the terrorists’ hideout, protecting the FBI team from being shot or blown up, and literally dodging bullets himself. The terrorists are defeated, but the bomb explodes anyway, destroying much of Los Angeles. Suddenly, he is back in the hotel room. Having seen it all, he agrees to help Ferris if Liz is kept completely out of it.
The film was directed by Lee Tamahori, based on the 1954 story “The Golden Man” by—who else?—Phillip K. Dick. The script was by Gary Goldman and Jason Koornick. It was a box-office flop and critics were unkind, particularly about the ending, which most considered a cheat. I guess they were right, but there were several extended action scenes full of clever twists that I found an amusing time-twist romp and enjoyed—one of those movies that I am expected to dislike after I’ve been thoroughly entertained. I completely forgot about the unexplained motivations of the FBI and terrorists, the unlikely romance, and Cage’s weird acting style because I was chuckling over the crazy action.