- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by David Medsker
here is a scene in “Next” that made me fear for the future of celluloid. Two dozen Nicolas Cages were scoping the surroundings of a warehouse for traps. Now, imagine if all of those Cages chewed up scenery as voraciously as the original Cage. Let me guess: you just shivered, didn’t you? Oh, if that were the only problem with “Next.” Yes, Cage is woefully miscast, but he isn’t what derails the movie.
Cage is Cris Johnson, a moderately successful Las Vegas illusionist that performs under the alias of Frank Cadillac. Cris, however, is harboring a dark secret, which is that his act is not an act; he can actually see two minutes into his future, and he is deliberately keeping a low profile because he is tired of his gifts being continuously “tested.” He has no choice but to embrace his abilities when FBI Agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) recruits him to track down a nuclear bomb that they believe is headed for southern California. The problem is that he continuously sees his new love Liz (Jessica Biel) in the crosshairs while he tries to appease the Feds.
With any luck, your first question upon reading that last paragraph was the same as mine: Nicolas Cage and Jessica Biel? Are you freaking kidding me? I kid you not, and the filmmakers did themselves no favors with the manner that they staged their meet-cute, either. It’s the most hilariously accelerated relationship since Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in “True Romance,” minus the quickie wedding (and thankfully minus a shot of Biel licking Cage’s hairy belly). As I watched it all unfold, all I could think was, Surely Liz knows that she can do better than a guy that looks like Nicolas Cage in a bad wig, right? Has she never seen a photo of Hugh Jackman or, God forbid, someone her own age? The casting of them as love interests is almost on a scale of Harrison Ford/Julia Ormond proportions.
Having said that, even if Cage had been the right man for the part (he isn’t), and Biel had been the right love interest for Cage (she isn’t), the movie still wouldn’t work because of its refusal to play by its own rules. If Cris can only see two minutes into the future, why are there so many exceptions to that? Director Lee Tamahori shoots it all competently enough, though he should ask for a better green screen budget next time around (and shame on him for stealing the opening and closing credits from “Se7en,” as if that hasn’t been done a million times already). But God love Julianne Moore for taking the role of Callie Ferris and running with it. The indie starlet is blowing shit up, and loving every minute of it. Pity that isn’t enough to save the ending, which, while not exactly a cheat along the lines of “Saw” or “Saw III,” will leave you equally as frustrated. I also thought of something a friend of mine from the Army told me, which is that anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice, but I’ll stop there.
“Next,” much like “Déjà Vu” or “Perfect Stranger” (speaking of cheat endings), is a movie out of time, the kind of thing that may have been a success had it been released in the ‘90s, but feels antiquated today. These movies continue to get made, I suppose, because of the improvements in special effects. But that doesn’t mean they should. Clearly, no one in Hollywood has Cris Johnson’s ability, or they would know this already. Though to be fair, I guess they’d only realize it two minutes before the premiere screening ended.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of “Next” is a carbon copy of the original DVD, including all of the standard extras like a making-of featurette (“Making the Best Next Thing”), an SFX featurette (“Visualizing the Next Movie”), and a two-minute interview with Jessica Biel. No exclusive bonus material has been added, and while the visual effects certainly look better in HD, it does very little to make the film itself any better.