Well it’s another month which means there must be another Nicholas Cage movie nearby since Nick pumps them out at nearly that frequency. But seriously though, I’m not sure what Cage gets paid per film, but I would imagine it’s somewhere between fifteen and twenty million dollars. So if someone’s going to pay you that kind of cheddar to do something that you already love doing, why wouldn’t you pile up few in as short a time possible? Art is cool and all, but you ain’t gonna be getting twenty million dollar paychecks forever. Also take into consideration that Cage’s co-star in his previous movie, the laughable ‘Ghost Rider’, was Eva Mendez and his co-star in today’s flick, ‘Next’, is Jessica Biel. So for a recap: You’re being torn off twenty million dollars per, and you’re also getting paid to fondle Eva Mendez and Jessica Biel, among others. There is Christopher Armstead (me) and Nicholas Cage. One of these two dudes lives suck, and the question is can you guess which one? Hint: It isn’t Nic Cage.
Still, despite the money and the babes, there’s still a movie to watch and quite honestly my only hope for ‘Next’ was that it be better than the TRULY wretched Nic Cage film, ‘The Wicker Man’ and the marginally wretched ‘Ghost Rider’. Goodness sakes alive! Not only is ‘Next’ better than either of those films, it’s better than both of those films combined! Damn if that’s still not faint praise, but all kidding aside, ‘Next’ was really a fast-moving, totally mindless, completely entertaining popcorn flick.
Cage is low level Las Vegas illusionist Cris Johnson who has the rather unique ability to see into the future. But only two minutes into the future and only as it relates directly to him. Cris uses this ability to perform cheap magic tricks and win marginally
at the casino, but a couple of things are happening in regards to this power. One is that he sees visions of this beautiful woman who is days or even months into his future, which has never happened before, and second some evil French terrorist (?) have stolen a nuclear bomb and are planning to blow up the southwest portion of the United States. What does this have to with Cris Johnson? Well hard driven FBI agent Callie Ferris has been observing Cris rather closely and is convinced he can use his ability to see into the future to stop the bomb from detonating, but Cris is having nothing to do with it, convinced he can’t help anyway, and fearing being a lab rat for the rest of his life. To make matters worse, those evil French terrorist (?) are aware of Cris too and want him dead before he even has the opportunity to help the government.
In between time, Cris does manage to meet the girl of his literal dreams, an Indian reservation teacher named Liz (Biel), who when Cris is in her presence can apparently extend Cris’s ability infinitely beyond those two minutes. So other than eventually being kidnapped and having to be rescued, this female character actually serves a purpose. Oh but you know she gets kidnapped by those evil French Terrorist (?), you know Cris is going to help the gub-ment find the atomic bomb, you know all of these things even before walking into the theater. Then again, maybe you don’t. As Cris tells us early on the proceedings, every time you look at the future, you change the future and ‘Next’ contain quite a bit of uncertainty in its conclusion.
Similar to last years ‘Déjà vu’ which was also a very entertaining but a very stupid popcorn flick, ‘Next’ is incredibly similar with an Academy Award winning star, an impossibly beautiful female lead to rescue, and a time shifting plot line. ‘Next’ might be a little more stupid than ‘Déjà vu’ but still pretty damn entertaining. For instance, who in hell are these terrorist? Why do they want to blow stuff up? Do they have any demands? What’s their freaking problem? This we are never told. How does this power that Cris Johnson has actually work? Does he live two minutes in the future? It certainly seems that way as there is absolutely nothing that can get by him. But if you live two minutes in the future, then you actually live in the present with your present simply being two minutes ahead of everybody else’s. I guess. Maybe he sees the future as a Picture-in-Picture window or something. Cris also tells us that he’s not a god, just a dude with a special ability. Not True! He may not be THE God, but he is definitely a god. He dodges bullets, he beats up an entire platoon of Special Forces soldiers, he sees through walls, and pulls off numerous amazing feats that only a god can do.
When his new girlfriend finds out about his special ability, she’s upset thinking that he used it to trick her into getting between the sheets. Cris balks claiming it was no setup, but he would be lying. Imagine if you could play over and over again in your mind just the right line to say to potential conquest until you finally found the one that worked. Well that’s what he did and that my friend is a setup for real. I’m not hating on the plan because it’s brilliant one, but he did trick her.
The plot holes in ‘Next’ are so vast and large that Louie Anderson would fall through them, but did it entertain? Hell yeah it did. As an action movie throwback to the late 80’s, it has just enough dialog to setup the almost non-stop car chases, big time shootouts, or bomb explosion sequences. The concept of the character seeing into the immediate future was handled beautifully as you never knew if we watching the future through Cris Johnson’s eyes or his present, and that worked for me. Director Lee Tamahori, who I’m surprised is still working after ‘XXX: State of the Union’ proves he can shoot a big, loud, stupid, fast moving, edge of your seat, thrilling, total nonsense, popcorn scarfing, diet coke guzzling movie as well as anybody. And it looks like there may be sequels.
Sure, it isn’t art. But ‘Next’ never tries to pretend to be anything other than what it is, which is an old fashioned brain-dead action movie, and by golly if it didn’t succeed at it. Earlier I asked you question. Which one of these two dudes lives suck? I don’t know if you figured out the answer yet, but another hint: It ain’t Nic Cage.