There should never have been a “Next” time
Well, we can bet they didn’t see this coming. Take Nicholas Cage, as big a movie star as you could find, Jessica Biel, as pretty a movie star you can be, and Julianne Moore, as credible an actress as can be found, put them in a movie adapted from popular novelist Philip K. Dick and what do you get?
A bomb of epic proportions.
The credibility of everyone involved slides down a notch in this sci-fi action thriller that starts out relying on a good dose of humor but abandons that reliance when it should have embraced it throughout. Hollywood continues its fascination with time travel as “Next” tells the story of Cris Johnson (Cage), a two-bit Las Vegas magician with the stage name “Frank Cadillac” who does have one real precognitive skill: he can see two minutes into his own future.
The film has some fun with this concept in a scene where Cris sees all the potential ways his pick up strategy on hottie-of- his-visions Liz (Biel) could go wrong, thus allowing him to choose a more effective technique.
We’re not sure what Liz sees in the much older, reclusive Cris. (And Cage’s use of Tom Hanks’ hairpiece from “The Da Vinci Code” doesn’t help matters.)
Implausibilities mount as Liz agrees to go on a road trip with our clairvoyant kook, only to learn he is being tailed by a group of FBI agents (led by the unintentionally hilarious, super-serious Moore) who hope to recruit Cris and use his power to thwart an eastern European terrorist plot. Not to be outdone, the multi-lingual mob of vague origins delays detonating a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles in order to kidnap Liz ostensibly and kill Cris– rather than just blowing up everyone– which is what real world radical Islamics would have done. It must not be politically correct yet to use a believably abhorrent and torn-from-the-headlines faction in a big budget movie.
When a film (even one based on science fiction) takes too many liberties with its own rules, the result is an audience that feels contemptuously manipulated, not engagingly surprised. Almost everything in “Next” feels contrived and dated. About halfway in, the film chooses to be taken seriously as an action film when it should continue to poke fun at itself.
This would have given us a film to remember instead of 96 minutes we can never get back.
Rated PG-13 for violent action, sensuality, profanity.