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September 24, 2007

Director: Lee Tamahori,
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Tory Kittles, José Zúñiga,

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DVD Review

Cris Johnson (Cage) is a two-bit Las Vegas magician, a second-rate Amazing Kreskin who can also see two minutes into the future but only as it pertains to him. The one exception to his two-minute rule is a recurring vision that he has of a woman in a diner but the catch is that he doesn’t know when this will happen. The woman turns out to be named Elizabeth Cooper (Biel) and they finally meet while she is being harassed by her ex-boyfriend. This scene features an amusing sequence where Cris anticipates the outcome of several pick-up lines until he finds the right angle in which to gain her confidence.

FBI Agent Callie Ferris (Moore), aware of his ability for some time, tries to enlist Cris’ help to locate a nuclear bomb stolen five weeks ago and find out where it will be deployed. A group of international terrorists discovers Cris’ existence and his ability through their surveillance of the FBI and is also determined to track him down but they want to kill him lest he uses his ability to stop them. Soon, they and the FBI are in hot pursuit of Cris.

Nicolas Cage coasts his way through another role playing another reluctant hero (see also The Rock and Con Air) with a sensitive side and so we get plenty of shots of the actor looking soulfully into the distance or at Jessica Biel. Julianne Moore has the thankless role of the no-nonsense FBI agent and does the best with what she’s given to work with which, frankly, isn’t much. Biel is given even less to do and is reduced to nothing more than the beautiful damsel in distress. One would have hoped that her decent turn in The Illusionist (2006) would have led to more substantial roles but this is not one of them.

The film’s plot unfold predictably as the bad guys kidnap Liz in order to get at Cris, forcing him to go from passive bystander to proactive hero. The TV show 24 has upped the ante on this kind of story (minus the SF element) considerably. It has the kind of pulse-pounding urgency that Next lacks and desperately needs. It doesn’t help that the bad guys are a non-descript group of Eurotrash and not in a colourful way like the terrorists in Die Hard (1988). There is only one truly clever sequence and this is when Cris uses his ability to orchestrate the FBI raid on the terrorists right down to the very moments when and where they are supposed to shoot. The way he does it is inventive and one wishes that the rest of the film were as interesting. The blame lies with the screenplay by Gary Goldman who butchered Philip K. Dick previously with Total Recall (1990) and Minority Report (2002). He’s at it again with this one. Will someone please stop this guy?

Special Features:

“Making The Best Next Thing” is your standard making of featurette. Cage describes the film as a “New Age action film” while the filmmakers use phrases like “distill the key element” when talking about how Dick’s story was “adapted.” In other words, this film barely resembles the original story. Cage does speak eloquently about what attracted him to the project and how he approached the role.

“Visualizing The Next Move” takes a look at how CGI was used to create the film’s visual effects. We see how some key effects were achieved.

“The Next ‘Grand Idea’” examines the Sioux Indian reservation that is featured prominently in the film. Cage had taken his wife there and felt that it would be the ideal place for Cris and Liz to fall in love.

“Two Minutes in the Future with Jessica Biel” features her talking about what it would be like if she could see two minutes into the future, weighing the pros and cons in this completely forgettable extra.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 65%

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