Film Reviews

NEXT

By • Apr 27th, 2007 •

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Paramount Pictures / Revolution Studios and IEG Virtual Studios present a Saturn Films / Broken Road production
Running time — 97 minutes / MPAA rating: PG-13

Cage continues his quest to be the next Superman.

What will humankind be like in 100 years? No more cancer? People living to 112? Babies born from the sperm of two men only? No. What we really all want – and want from science – is super powers. Isn’t that what TV’s ‘Medium’, ‘Ghost Whisperer,’ and ‘Heroes’ is all about? In film, we have super heroes, demon slayers and Matrix dwellers. We all know someone who is psychic, reads Tarot cards, or talks to the dead.

I know a lot of people who talk to the dead. The dead have nothing to say except that they are happy and busy.

In NEXT, Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage) has a really cool super power. He can see what will happen exactly two minutes into the future. But only if it involves him. So it’s a selfish, time-cheat super power. It does supplement his income at the blackjack tables in Las Vegas.

Yes, the whole concept is ridiculous, but not as silly as Jessica Biel falling madly in love with Johnson at first sight. He might be hiding in plain sight as a lounge magician, but those ever-present casino security cameras know he’s up to something fishy. When Johnson foils a casino shooting about to happen within two minutes right next to him, he is targeted as the gunman and flees. He steals a car and gets away. Meanwhile, he’s being hunted by FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) and her team of powerful agents who can make the Sun stop shining on her orders.

Ferris catches up with Johnson and asks him to find a nuclear bomb on its way to Los Angeles. Eight million people will die. Johnson doesn’t care. He doesn’t see himself being one of them. Here’s his reason against helping save America from a devastating terrorist attack: They’ll make him the Pentagon’s house slave and keep him in a vat of water like a MINORITY REPORT Pre-Cog.

If only Ferris had dropped the appeal to “do good” and save eight million lives and sweetened the deal with a big paycheck, a country house, and a Ferrari in any color.

Johnson has a more pressing thing on his mind then the collapse of Los Angeles. He has seen a girl in his future at a diner. So every day he goes to the same diner waiting for her to appear. The girl does turn up and its gorgeous Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel). Johnson knows where she is going so he tells her he needs a lift to Arizona. Liz volunteers to take the weird stranger with her. Liz doesn’t know that she is his dream girl, he is running from the FBI, and the bad guys transporting the bomb are after him as well.

So here you have it – Johnson has gotten to his 40s by staying under the radar, and when his country needs him, he says “No” and runs.

Cage, still appearing shirtless in films and requiring a young lady to fall in love with him, must have seen the character’s glaring problem – why not get a good contract lawyer and save eight million innocent lives? Johnson’s position is weak, especially when he finds out he, and his dream girl, are being hunted by terrorists who will kill them. Instead, he keeps running and dodging bullets with his 2-minute warning super power.

Yes, the twists were neat and the dodging-bullets-thing well done. I love how Jessica Biel is fashioning her career. Instead of going on the Jessica Alba path, she did fine work in prestige projects THE ILLUSIONIST and HOME OF THE BRAVE. I even liked her in BLADE: TRINITY. The fact that she has no chemistry with Cage is not her fault. His Johnson character is just too creepy to have a sweet school-teacher like Liz fall immediately in love with him. Cage has more chemistry with Moore, who knows how to bark orders and, seeing that he had no chemistry with Biel, threw her dialogue at him with the same intensity he thinks is his sexy trademark.

Director Lee Tamahori not only kept the story going at a fast pace, and the CGI impressive, he crafted a plot that was enjoyable. And we all like an unexpected, satisfying twist at the end that delivers.


Credits:
Director: Lee Tamahori
Screenwriters: Gary Goldman, Jonathan Hensleigh, Paul Bernbaum
Screen story by: Gary Goldman
Based on a story by: Philip K. Dick
Producers: Nicolas Cage, Norm Golightly, Todd Garner, Arne L. Schmidt, Graham King
Executive producers: Gary Goldman, Jason Koornick, Benjamin Waisbren
Director of photography: David Tattersall
Production designer: William Sandell
Music: Mark Isham
Costume designer: Sanja Milkovic Hays
Editor: Christian Wagner

Cast:
Cris Johnson: Nicolas Cage
Callie Ferris: Julianne Moore
Liz: Jessica Biel
Mr. Smith: Thomas Kretschmann
Cavanaugh: Tory Kittles
Roybal: Jose Zuniga
Irv: Peter Falk

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