Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cast: Nicholas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann
Director:Lee Tamahori

Nicholas Cage is a Vegas stage magician, though Julianne Moore suspects there is more to it than mere sleight of hand. Moore is an agent, looking for alternative methods of gathering intelligence, different ways of combating terrorism. Cage actually does have pre-cognitive abilities, though he can only see 2 minutes into his own future. However, there is a twist in each of their lives, Cage has had one incident where he has seen more than two minutes ahead, and that involves an encounter with Jessica Biel, though he doesn't know when this encounter will occur, he is obsessed with making sure he doesn't miss it, while Moore is under pressure with the discovery that a nuclear missile has been smuggled into America by terrorists and that they need to follow any lead that they possibly can.

From there Next is a shambles of Moore trying to recruit Cage, Cage trying to win Biel, and some random non-specific movie terrorists trying to upset everyone. Of course this involves the usual running around, shouting, shooting, blowing things up. Mix into that a dose of moving out of the way before things happen, playing out scenarios before doing it for real, to offer that dose of science fiction and you have your hollywood fodder sorted.

Next is the latest in an ongoing process of plundering the works of Philip K. Dick. After the recent success of A Scanner Darkly, and by success I mean "bearing some resemblance to the work it is based on" as opposed to "box office", it looks like Next is another appalling piece of work like Paycheck. While I haven't read The Golden Man, so can't comment too much on how close it is to the original, I do know Dick's work in general well enough to make a fair guess that this isn't what he wrote. The idea of having seen the future and knowing how to react does indeed provide common ground between Paycheck and Next, and to a degree Minority Report also had that though it wasn't set in the present so there are less parallels there. However, while Paycheck was a mess, partly due to casting of Ben Affleck, and Next certainly looks to be a mess, I have to admit, I didn't think it was that bad.

Well ok, let me take that back, Next is bad. Nicholas Cage is a dreadful actor in general, and a dreadful actor here. But given the recent horror that was Ghost Rider, given the trailer/publicity for Next, it would be fair to expect this to be a truly bad film. Perhaps my expectations were lowered so much that it just wasn't as bad as I expected? Perhaps. But I did kind of enjoy it, though that was more down to the elements of precognition, some of the little effect scenes, and crucially the relationship between Cage and Biel. But hey, even if I say I kind of enjoyed it, even if I suggest its OK to sit and watch on a Saturday night, don't be mistaken and think I said it was actually good.

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