Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) is a small-time magician working in a seedy lounge in Las Vegas. In his act, he uses the gift that is both a blessing and a curse: he can see two minutes into the future. Vegas security guards notice that he has an uncanny ability to win at the tables and are keeping a close eye on him. FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) is also watching him - she is keen to persuade him to help her track down a terrorist group that threatens to detonate a nuclear device in Los Angeles. But Cris wants to keep a low profile and is on the lookout for a mysterious girl (Jessica Biel) whom he repeatedly sees in his mind.
Review by Louise Keller:
The premise is wildly preposterous, yet Nicolas Cage makes Next fun to watch. Based on Philip K. Dick's short story The Golden Man, the set up is especially intriguing as we meet Cris Johnson (Cage) performing his two-bit magic act in Las Vegas. This is where the film uses sleight of hand to seduce us into Cris' world of fast-forwards, showing us how he can gamble and win, prevent a shooting before the crime occurs, and even meet Liz (Jessica Biel), the girl he has been predestined to meet. It's like trying before you buy, or having a second chance for everything... if the result is not what Cris has in mind, he will simply try another tactic. Leaving Las Vegas (pun intended) is inevitable, and unfortunately, once Cris and Liz hit the road, the plot begins to self destruct. There are inconsistencies in Cris' special powers and holes the size of the Grand Canyon start to manifest. But Cage makes even the most outlandish situation interesting, and this improbable and flawed sci-fi thriller has its moments.
The Las Vegas scenes are by far the best. It is there that we first meet Cris sipping a dry martini in a diner and watching the clock, waiting to meet the girl he keeps seeing in his mind. We (and Cris) are one step ahead of the casino security, weaving and ducking the cameras as he avoids apprehension by knowing what everyone is doing two minutes before they do it. Expect to be confused; that's half the fun. How Julianne Moore's dour and strident FBI agent Callie Ferris has noticed Cris' talents is never properly explained, nor are we ever sympathetic to her character 'With freedom comes responsibility,' she tells him. There's a treat in store for Colombo fans: Peter Falk makes a welcome cameo as Cris' confidant, and Biel is lovely as the girl who believes 'Life is supposed to be a surprise.'
Director Lee Tamahori handles the action skilfully, and we watch in fascination as Cage dodges bullets, falling logs and flying cars - he can see them coming. There is plenty that is unexplained and the plot becomes more and more ludicrous as the film spirals into its impossible climax. Not only is the FBI chasing Cris, but the villains seem to think he is more important than executing their dastardly terrorist attack. Cris can also apparently see behind closed doors. And did I mention he can be in more than one place at once? There are suddenly two, three, four and more Nicolas Cages, making it easy for him to look around quickly. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the absurdness of it all, and Cage, always intense and enigmatic, is engaging.
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CAST: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Tory Kittles, Jose Zuniga, Jim Beaver, Jason Butler Harner, Michael Trucco, Enzo Cilenti
PRODUCER: Nicolas Cage, Todd Garner, Norman Golightly, Graham King
DIRECTOR: Lee Tamahori
SCRIPT: Gary Goldman, Jonathan Hensleigh, Paul Bernbaum (novel The Golden Man by Phillip K. Dick)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Tattersall
EDITOR: Christian Wagner
MUSIC: Mark Isham
PRODUCTION DESIGN: William Sandell
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 23, 2007