• 2007-06-06
  • Sherwin Das
In "Next" Nicolas Cage plays Cris Johnson, a man who's had a unique power since he was a child: he's able at will to see two minutes into his own future. But to avoid becoming an object of curiosity or a pawn, he's gone underground and eeks out a living as a small-time Vegas magician winning modest sums at the cards tables.

But icy FBI agent Callie Farris (Julianne Moore) has been tracking Johnson, aware of his special powers. Her aim is to recruit him to assist the agency in matters of national security. So far, he has managed to evade her because, of course, he always sees when people are coming for him.

Meanwhile, a cadre of international terrorists who are smuggling a stolen nuclear weapon into Los Angeles have figured out that the FBI intends to use Johnson to find them. So they're after him too. But luckily, seeing the future has its advantages and Johnson is able to avoid policemen, punches, falling rocks, and bullets with ease.

There's a love interest too, played by Jessica Biel. And in the only humorous sequence of the film, we see Johnson go through all the possible variations of hitting on her until he arrives at the most successful a la "Groundhog Day."

Based on a short story by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, "Next" feels like it was probably better as a short story. It's far-fetched, yes, but better science-fiction stories allow you to suspend your disbelief if they create worlds or characters that feel real. "Next" doesn't manage to do that. It's mostly a run-of-the-mill action movie about FBI agent good guys and terrorist bad guys which loses itself in the action sequences and forgets the psychological prison in which the protagonist lives.

This might have been a better movie if it had honed in on Cage's character. But as it is, it often feels familiar and corny, and the love story seems like an afterthought. This film is certainly better than Cage's last effort, the abominal Ghost Rider. But that isn't saying too much. "Next" is appropiately titled, however. When the end credits rolled, that's exactly the word that came to my mind.

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