Cage Week! – Day 4: ‘Next’ (2007)

next 2007Day four takes us forward to a more recent, though already practically forgotten Cage effort, 2007’s Next. This film is loosely based on a short story by Sci-Fi master Philip K. Dick called The Golden Man. Dick’s work has had infamously mixed results in cinema, for every Blade Runner, Minority Report or A Scanner Darkly there’s a Screamers, Impostor or Paycheck. Next unfortunately fits into the latter group, but at least any Dick adaptation should have an interesting idea at its core?

The central concept behind Next is that Cage’s character Cris, possesses the ability to see his own future (not to mention a ridiculous hairdo), however, he can only see two minutes ahead. He spends his time using this power to his advantage, ‘hiding it in plain sight’ by working as a small time Las Vegas magician, and supplementing this by gambling for small amounts at local casinos.

Cris hasn’t managed to hide his powers as well as he should have though, as he’s caught the attention of FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore), who’s worked out what he can do and wants to use him to stop a terrorist attack. Unfortunately for her, just as she’s closing in on him he unwittingly has a run in with casino security and must escape immediately.

So yes, the limited future vision stuff is not a bad idea to base the movie around (that’s what comes from the book), most of the rest of it…not so much. The sequence when Cris eludes casino security is the only real scene that uses his power to its full advantage. The film becomes more of a series of unremarkable chase/action sequences after that, albeit with an increasingly less well-defined supernatural element.

To give the film some credit, Moore’s role as Cage’s FBI agent foil is one that 90% of Hollywood movies would almost certainly write as a male, but as good an actress as she is there’s not much for her to work with here. The film’s other principle character is a woman called Liz (Jessica Biel) who Cris has had a vision of. She inevitably become the love interest, despite being about 20 years Cage’s junior, and we get a series of sub-sub-Groundhog Day moments in which he attempts to gain her affections assessing the outcome of each possible action he could take.220px-Next_poster

Cage is a perfectly watchable lead in the film, which goes by fairly breezily in its first 40 minutes of so but gradually loses interest, even with a brisk run time. It’s not a particular embarrassment for any of its key players (director Lee Tamahori was coming off two awful franchise actioners at this point) but it’s not hard to see why it’s become all but forgotten in the few years since its release.


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