Film review by: Witney Seibold
The film has to explain it to us at least four times during its length, as it’s a little convoluted: Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) has the ability to “see” the future. It’s not explained if he gets occasional blips or is constantly experiencing déjà vu. But, he can’t see the future for other people; the future is irrelevant unless it pertains directly to him. And he can only see the next two minutes of the future, which doesn’t do him well in lotteries, but does him wonders at the roulette wheels in Vegas where he works as a nightclub magician. Oh, and his powers also let him see other people who are thinking about him, no matter where they are. But, but, but he can also see really far into the future, provided he’s thinking about a mysterious woman (Jessica Biel) whom he will meet in a diner, but he doesn’t know when he’ll meet her, but he goes to the diner all the time because she’s, like, really pretty and played by Jessica Biel. When he finally does meet her, his abilities are all the more enhanced, an’ he can, like see days ahead of time.
Clear as mud.
The FBI has gotten wind that some unnamed militant group will explode a hijacked nuclear bomb in a few days time, and the leader of the project Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore, who underacts and takes this stupid role way, way too seriously), rather than rely on conventional investigation, becomes convinced that the only way to track it down is to kidnap Cris, and force him, by strapping him to a chair with his eyelids forced open, á la “A Clockwork Orange,” to watch the news and let them know when and where the bomb’ll blow up.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, “Next” is a supremely stupid movie.
The only-predicting-two-minutes-into-the-future gag is a pretty cool trick; it makes for some great chase sequences where Cris is able to barely evade his pursuers, and it also legitimately allows the filmmakers to give us some good fake-out moments where we see people get killed or cars get destroyed only to learn two minutes later that was just Cris’ vision.
But otherwise, “Next,” directed by Lee Tamahori (“The Edge,” “XXX: State of the
Union”), and based on a short story by sci-fi cult god Philip K. Dick, is a sloppy affair. And not a fun sloppy either. It’s just… well it’s just bad. The story doubles back on itself a few times, often in ways that don’t make sense. Julianne Moore, usually a fine actress, is baffling and wasted (perhaps in both senses of the word), and Jessica Biel does little more than stand around and look pretty. Peter Falk appears in one scene as Cris’ old confidant, and it hurts to see him in a film like this. The film takes place largely on the backroads of the American west, but manages to have no atmosphere or sense of place.
And as for Nicolas Cage, well, I remember a time when it was kind of a thrill to see he was going to be in a film. The last film he was great in was probably 2002’s “Adaptation.” Since then, he’s appeared in “National Treasure,” “Matchstick Men,” “World Trade Center,” the remake of “The Wicker Man,” and “Ghost Rider.” Not exactly a stellar résumè. In “Next,” he stumbles unconvincingly through his lines, his jacket a little ill-fitting and his hair a little mussed, seemingly thinking of his paycheck.
Even Philip K. Dick has a spotty track record when it comes to film adaptations. He is responsible for the stories behind such action thrillers as “Total Recall” (cheesy, but clever) and “Minority Report” (excellent), and the animated headtrip “A Scanner Darkly” (which I think I liked more than most people). He’s also responsible, though for crap like “Impostor,” “Paycheck,” and now “Next.”
Look through the movie listings, say the title to yourself, then take its advice.