Say what you will about Nicholas Cage, the man is busy. He’s had two movies out this year, and seven more coming up. This is why I can be excused for missing Next in 2007. He had four movies out that year. Cage is a movie making god. I won’t kid you, however. Next isn’t a great movie. It’s not bad; it’s not great. But it is a lot of fun.
The premise is that Chris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) can see into the future, but only two minutes of his own future. You might think this isn’t a very useful gift, but if you have no morals, and you live in Las Vegas, you’d be surprised how unpopular and wealthy you could become around town as you cleaned the houses. Chris’ problem is that he’s not very wealthy, so he works as a mentalist/magician. He works very hard to use his powers in a way that looks absolutely ordinary.
Unfortunately, he’s too distracted by the one exception of his powers–a beautiful girl (Liz Cooper, played by Jessica Biel) who he keeps seeing visions of in an indeterminate future. Meanwhile, he comes under the attention of hard-boiled FBI agent, Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore), who not only knows what he can do, but thinks he can solve her nuclear crisis at the hands of terrorists. Chris isn’t too keen to help out since he’s been prodded by government scientists before. Besides, he’s got a date with fate.
The two elements that make Next fun is first, Nicolas Cage, and second, Nicolas Cage with precog powers. The movie feels very inspired by The Matrix here and there, but eventually stands on its own because of Cage’s unflappable mannerisms and wry delivery. Of particular note was the scene where Cage’s character evades casino security over and over again as he escapes, and the scene where he meets Liz, trying again and again to defeat her possessive boyfriend while trying to break the ice. Chris Johnson uses his precog abilities in clever and entertaining ways.
There are flaws in Next, however. The acting wasn’t the greatest. Biel is cute and attractive, but not a good actor in this role, often being reduced to eye candy. She also lacked chemistry with Cage, who was eighteen years her senior. Despite that, I liked her because she had a girl-next-door quality. It was refreshing, but it couldn’t save the movie. Julianne Moore’s character was rather flat as well.
The plot had some surprisingly large holes. They never fully explained why the feds were watching him, nor did they explain who the big, bad guy was with the nuclear bomb, nor did they explain why the big bad guy wanted Chris dead, nor did they explain how the big, bad guy knew of Chris’ powers.
Despite all that, Next was a fun science-fiction romp using precognitive abilities in an entertaining way. It’s a solid three stars. If you’re a Nicolas Cage fan, then you’re all set. If you’re not a Cage fan, this movie will be fun to watch with friends. You’ll need them to comfort you after you see the twist ending.
Release Date: September 24, 2007 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 3 (frequent smoking and drinking)
Language: 3 (two f-words, plenty of other strong cursing—even in French)
Sexuality: 3 (sex in a motel)
Violence: 3 (gunplay, death, explosions, kidnapping, terror, torture)