| May 5, 2007

It’s kind of like Memento meets Switch meets Premonition meets that superhero who can split himself into several places at once. That’s how I found myself describing the new Nicolas Cage (Valley Girl, Peggy Sue Got Married) film, Next, where he plays Cris Johnson, a man with the ability to see his future two minutes in advance and pays the bills by performing a Las Vegas sideshow magic act and playing blackjack.
He says, in voiceover, that he wins just enough to fly under the radar, but we immediately see that the FBI and the casinos are very interested in him. So much for his stealth capabilities. He also says that the two-minute rule is hard and fast, except for one woman (Jessica Biel from Elizabethtown, Cellular), who has begun to inhabit his visions with a more than two-minute window. The reason why is never explained in the film. My assumption is that it’s because Johnson has a thing for Biel and is trying to make her his girlfriend.
Julianne Moore (The Forgotten, Children of Men) is the superstar FBI agent who wants to use Johnson’s paranormal abilities to track down a nuclear weapon which has been smuggled into the United States by some French-speaking terrorists (no wonder they get their ass kicked later in the film). She has figured out that Johnson can only see two minutes into the future, his future, but thinks that with the correct amount of pressure and patriotism, he can dial it up.
If you buy into all of this, you will enjoy the movie. Even the ending, which leaves you a bit flat, is workable when you remember that Cage has said all along that when you see the future, you change the future. Holy Back to the Future, Batman! What we do not receive from director Lee Tamahori (Along Came a Spider) and writer Jonathan Hensleigh (The Punisher) is a reason the terrorists are attempting to do damage to Los Angeles. We are not given someone to hate, and therefore, not given enough reason to root for Cage. Or the FBI, for that matter. A bit too much “the ends justify the means” for me.
It is a thriller so a few words about the effects are in order. Quite Good! Great sound! Are they believable? Not so much, most of the time. There is one sequence where Johnson is running down a canyon followed by various trucks, logs, boulders, a railroad engine and assorted chains and such, where his two-minute warning best be set on a two-second replay in order for him to survive. I heard an audible “Oh come on” from the sparse audience at my showing.
So if you just want a low-input thriller which lets you head into a dark theater and see the good guy win… or maybe not
Your next movie is Next
Your next movie is Next
Your next movie is Next

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