One question folks like to ask me is this golden oldie: â€œHave you ever seen a movie so bad that you walked out on it?â€ And Iâ€™ve always answered: â€œNo.â€ And donâ€™t think that I stay to watch a movie all the way through out of some principal that I should stay to the end of a movie so that if I trash it later on I can do it fairly. I stay because Iâ€™ve paid my money and Iâ€™m not getting up until Iâ€™ve seen what Iâ€™ve paid for. That doesnâ€™t mean that there arenâ€™t plenty of movies Iâ€™ve wished Iâ€™d walked out on. I could give you a list in two minutes flat of 25 movies I wished Iâ€™d walked out on. And as of last Friday, NEXT goes to the top of that list. Dear friends, if youâ€™ve been waiting for NEXT to come to your local discount movie theater or waiting for the DVD, please take my word for it and donâ€™t. Trust me. NEXT is so appallingly bad that I donâ€™t know who I feel sorrier for: the people who paid good money to see it or the people who were contractually obligated to work on this movie. At least I hope they were contractually obligated.
Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage) is a third rate Las Vegas magician performing under the name Frank Cadillac. Heâ€™s not flashy enough to play the big rooms. He mainly works the small lounges where the losers nurse their drinks while trying to figure out how to tell their wives theyâ€™ve lost the kidâ€™s college fund shooting craps. Cris deliberately stays under the radar because he does have a gift that is akin to real magic: he can see two minutes into his own future and tell whatâ€™s going to happen to him before it happens. He uses this talent to rake in some extra cash at the blackjack tables until one shitty night when he finds himself preventing a robbery that hasnâ€™t happened yet and winds up on the run from not only the Las Vegas Police Department but also FBI Special Agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore)
Turns out that Agent Ferris knows all about the special power Cris has, apparently from studying casino videotapes and somehow sheâ€™s convinced herself that Cris can help her find and stop a band of terrorists who have a nuclear device somewhere in Los Angeles that theyâ€™re going to denote in five days. Yeah, you read that right. Terrorists have an active nuclear device on American soil and the FBI is chasing after a Las Vegas magician instead of trying to find the bomb. Using his ability, Cris manages to stay out of the clutches of the cops and the feds as he desperately needs to find Liz (Jessica Biel) a young woman who keeps appearing in his visions of the future. But these visions donâ€™t take place two minutes in the future. They apparently take place days and even weeks ahead. Cris wants to find her to find out why. This leads to a scene that is actually kinda amusing and clever: using his ability to see two minutes ahead Cris can actually â€˜try outâ€™ different approaches of meeting Liz until he finds one that works.
Now while Cris and Liz are falling in love and Agent Farris is tearing her hair out trying to catch up to Cris, the head terrorist (Thomas Kretschmann) finds out that the FBI is trying to catch Cris because they think he can help them. In a stunning leap of logic that dazzled me beyond belief, Terrorist Number One pulls all of his people from their main objective of blowing up Los Angeles and sends them to kill Cris. His reasoning? Well, if the FBI thinks Cris can catch him then Cris has got to be killed at all costs. You think the guy would do a background check or something before committing all of his people to such an action but NEXT never lets anything resembling common sense or logic get in the way of the next CGI action sequence.
Supposedly NEXT is based on a â€˜novel storyâ€™ called â€œThe Golden Manâ€ by Philip K. Dick. Iâ€™ve never read the story but Iâ€™d be willing to bet you my autographed copy of Clive Barkerâ€™s â€˜Weaveworldâ€™ that it bears no relation to the movie at all. In fact, NEXT feels an awful lot like a television pilot on steroids. It plays as if the Johnny Smith character from â€˜The Dead Zoneâ€™ was the hero of â€˜24â€™ instead of Jack Bauer. To be honest, I think the character of Cris Johnson/Frank Cadillac to be interesting enough to sustain a television series and the ways he uses his power in the movie shows heâ€™s a guy with brains. Itâ€™s a given that he can actually dodge bullets since he knows where a sniper is going to shoot him before the sniper pulls the trigger. And he can evade and escape his pursuers since he literally knows where theyâ€™re going to be before they do. He can outfight just about anybody since he knows from which direction their punches are coming. But thereâ€™s a goofy chase sequence where he orchestrates an escape that has a kind of lunatic Wile E. Coyote kind of deranged genius in the way one thing crashes over and flips something else over and causes something else to roll downhill. Thereâ€™s also a nifty scene where Cris â€˜searchesâ€™ an entire ship by himself simply by running through his mind every possible route he could take through the ship and foreseeing how the multiple routes will end.
And even though â€œGhost Riderâ€ is the better movie (although not by much) I liked Nicholas Cageâ€™s performance in NEXT much better. Not once in â€œGhost Riderâ€ did I buy him as a daredevil motorcycle stunt rider but here, he inhabited the skin of this character very well. Julianne Moore walks through her performance as if she just wants to get this over with, get her check and call Paul Thomas Anderson to beg him to have a role for her in his next movie. After seeing Jessica Biel in â€œThe Illusionistâ€ and being highly impressed with her in that movie I was wondering if she was truly developing into a gifted actress or if it was just the director and the material of â€œThe Illusionistâ€ that made her look better than she was. After watching her in NEXT I would say that yes, her performance in â€œThe Illusionistâ€ was a fluke. And Peter Falk is in the movie for all of five minutes. If you sneeze youâ€™ll miss him. The director Lee Tamahori knows how to direct action as anybody whoâ€™s seen â€œDie Another Dayâ€ and â€œXXX: State Of The Unionâ€ can attest but the action sequences in NEXT all were familiar to me, as if Iâ€™d seen them before. Especially in the last 30 minutes that play like outtakes from â€˜24â€™.
And the ending of NEXTâ€¦I sat there in my seat for maybe a minute not believing that they actually had ended the movie the way it did. Iâ€™m sure that the writers sat around congratulating themselves on how clever they were. I donâ€™t think they were clever at all. I think they wasted my time and the time of everybody at the showing I saw it with. I looked at some of the faces of the people leaving the theater with me and they were not happy faces at all. That ending, combined with the silly, sloppy premise of the story and an overwhelming number of plot holes as big as craters on The Moon made for a horrendously disappointing movie.
WORLD - CULTURE
Copyright © 2010 DLFerguson
Next: Movie Review
Copyright © 2010 DLFerguson
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