Director    Lee Tamahori
Starring    Nicolas Cage, Jessia Biel, Julianne Moore, Thomas Kretschmann, Tory Kittles
Release    April 27 (US) April 27 (UK)    Certificate 12A
3 stars


2nd May 2007

When you get old, and you look back on your life, you're going to look in the mirror and ask yourself: "Did I do the right thing? By being in films like National Treasure and The Wicker Man and Ghost Rider, did I make good movies? Did I contribute to humankind?" And you'll laugh from inside your solid gold mansion with your multi-million dollar bank account and think: "Fuck it, I'm rich, and I was in Wild At Heart and Rumble Fish." And the Bad Nicolas Cage Movies will continue.

Is Next a stinker? Is it yet another crappy adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story that turns his diamonds into high-concept dogshit? Is it, in short, another Paycheck?

No, thankfully. Somehow, the largely incompetent Lee Tamahori manages not to make this film the biggest cinematic abortion since his own xXx 2: Too Crap For Vin Diesel. Whilst the film bares only the slimmest resemblance to the PKD story it's based upon - a tradition of cinematic adaptations - thankfully Tamahori has made a film that doesn't suck like a Hoover set to XXXtreme. The central premise sees Nicolas Cage playing Frank Cadillac aka Cris Johnson, a magician who can see two minutes into the future and is ekeing out a small life in a back street Vegas hotel sideshow. Unbeknownst to him, the FBI seems to think he can solve the problem of a missing nuclear weapon. And the bad guys - French-speaking Russian blonde-ubermen devoid of personality - want him too. That's the razor thin MacGuffin of a plot (apart from a girl, of course, there's always a girl involved) which is used only as a way of propelling action and mood.

In the meantime, Frank Cadillac wanders through life with a bizarre second sight that is truly impressive to see. It's well played and handled in a way that seems curiously realistic. The central conceit is well handled and with the many alternate futures there are, nothing is what it seems. The first few times this happens it's interesting, but after a while it becomes overdone, and you expect it to happen. Next is by no means a bad movie: at times it seems as if it may possibly turn into the kind of usual clichéd action movie that jettisons any brains in favour of BOOM! BANG! CGI! FOR! DUMB! TEENS! but thankfully it takes the lesser path and thinks instead of pulling a gun and running around like a headless CGI chicken.

Whilst Nicolas Cage can only play one character - a tense and nervy version of himself, and Julianne Moore looks as gorgeous as ever, the rest of the film and the characters within it are barely sketched ciphers. It's hard to care about 8 million people getting blown up by Faceless Commie Nazis when the bad guys have the presence of ants and the supporting cast are marginalized to glorified cameos (not every movie can make Jessica Biel seem quite so unappealing). But Next is more than just the sum of its parts. Despite its generic and bland advertising, despite the flaws of temptation to blow shit up and despite the occasional pot-hole sized plot holes, Next is an adaptation that manages to avoid the obvious. File under better than your average, shitty summer action movie.

More:  Action  Sci-fi
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