*1/2 (out of 5)
April 27, 2007
Nicolas Cage as CRIS JOHNSON
Julianne Moore as CALLIE FERRIS
Jessica Biel as LIZ
Thomas Kretschmann as MR. SMITH
Tory Kittles as CAVANAUGH
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Lee Tamahori
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Stephen King once pointed out in his book “Secret Window, Secret Garden” (which was subsequently made into the stinker film “Secret Window”) that the ending of the film is the most important thing. It’s too bad the folks making “Next” weren’t aware of this. While “Next” is a mediocre run-of-the-mill sci-fi thriller through most of its 96-minute running time, the ending is a real disappointment.
You might be tempted to think that this disappointment comes from the fact that I’m a stuffy critic and I wouldn’t know a great twist if it came up and sat on my lap (however a great twist might manage that), but I assure you this isn’t the case. It’s one thing for a critic like me to complain about a cliche ending, but when and audience filled with your target audience gives an audible groan at the twist ending, it’s a bad sign.
“Next” tells the disjointed story of Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage), a two-bit Vegas magician who has the unexplainable ability to see two minutes into the future. Sure, this isn’t something that will make you rich on Wall Street, but it comes in handy at the blackjack table.
Johnson finds himself the target of a two-front manhunt. On one hand, the FBI is trying to get his help in finding a rogue nuclear bomb, apparently because Jack Bauer is on vacation. On the other hand, the politically correct terrorists who have the bomb also want Johnson, simply because the FBI wants him… and that must mean something, right?
Meanwhile, Johnson is searching for the girl of his dream, whom he had a vision of at a local diner. She’s significant to him because she is the only thing he has ever had a premonition about that took place further than two minutes into the future. When they finally meet up and go on the run, the FBI and terrorists converge on them, putting everyone’s lives in jeopardy.
Some might be tempted to think this would be a pretty slick action film. After all, it’s directed by Lee Tamahori who directed Pierce Brosnan’s final appearance as James Bond in “Die Another Day.” Of course, these people seem to forget that this was also the guy who directed the franchise-killer “xXx: State of the Union.”
I cannot criticize the original story of “Next,” which was written in novel form many years ago by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. Though, the fact that this is a P.K. Dick adaptation might be a warning in itself. The poor guy has had such a hard afterlife in movies.
After his first adaptation, “Blade Runner,” became a classic, one would think Dick’s library of stories would keep audiences glued to the screen. Sadly, Dick’s film adaptations have been sour disappointments for his fans and forgettable movies for general audiences. Maybe the author was lucky to have died of a heart attack before most of his film adaptations came out.
“Next” had a distinct feel of another recent P.K. Dick adaptation – “Paycheck,” which I thought was okay, but hardly a great film. If you liked “Paycheck,” chances are you’ll like “Next.” Consider it Nicolas Cage’s “Paycheck.” And yes, the pun is intended.
If I could look into the future, I wouldn’t have seen this movie at all.