Next: Cage still a Dork
Just over a year ago (give or take 20 days) I wrote about the anxiety that forward knowledge of a film’s production can bring on in a movie nerd such as myself. And, somewhat ironically, the movie that I used as a reference point in the aforementioned post was the just-now released in Australia, Nick Cage flick; NEXT.
Joining a growing list of films to reference the work of author Philip K Dick (PKD), NEXT credits itself as being based on the novel “The Golden Man”. Sadly though it completely lacks any of the grit and angst that PKD used in his writing, and after being boiled down by the Hollywood process lacks any real inspiration too.
Nicolas Cage plays Cris Johnson, a.k.a magician ‘Frank Cadillac’, a Vegas magician who was born with the ability to see up to two minute into the future. Actually, Cris has the ability to see all possible futures, and by participating in the present has the ability to ensure the actual outcome of any situation.
Without explanation FBI Agent, Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) has figured out that Cris has some kind of precognitive ability and chooses the middle of an investigation — into the possibility of an impending nuclear bomb detonation by terrorists — as the best time to spend chasing down Cage’s character, on the hunch that he (and his unconfirmed ability) may be able to help.
Additionally, in one brief scene Cris alludes to having been experimented on as a child. These two elements are seemingly the only remnants of the paranoia that PKD often used in his writing and act as distress flares to anyone actually looking for a deeper story in NEXT.
Who experimented on Cris? How does Agent Ferris know that he has these abilities? Who the hell are these terrorists and how/why are they after Cris too? And the big one: Why is it that when Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel) is involved, Cris can use his ability to see much further than two minutes into the future?
Spending time attempting to answer some of these questions could have resulted in NEXT being an intelligent action thriller, but sadly the questions are ignored and we’re instead treated to cheap dialogue and ‘off the shelf’ characters… but at least there’s a friggin huge explosion to look forward to!
Cage is his usual likeable self in this film and ultimately his performance as a guy who is essentially bored with life (having lived every minute many times over) can seem wooden. But if you can ignore the unanswered questions, the appalling lack of anything for Jessica Biel to actually do, the “FBI Agent #1” performance by the usually captivating Julianne Moore, the cornball dialogue, the scenes that they let the work experience kid edit and the criminal under-use of Peter Falk… Well, then you’re left with a not completely un-fun action movie.
Or to paraphrase another of today’s cinema-goers: They took the easy way out and while I didn’t not enjoy watching it, I wont be thinking about it on the way home.