Next (2007)

Even Julianne Moore can't save Nicolas Cage from this disaster

Photo of Nicolas Cage in ‘Next’

Nicolas Cage in ‘Next’


When the moment finally came that's portrayed in one of the press stills — Nick Cage, strapped to a dentist's chair, his head wrapped in a ridiculous contraption that keeps his eyes wide open — I couldn't help but glance over my shoulder, as if worried that someone would catch me watching this one. Up until now, I'd almost convinced myself this was a passable action flick. But wide-eyed Nick jarred me back to reality. When the filmmakers will actually allow themselves such a cheesy plot device, you know they've lost their way.

Which is regrettable, because there were parts and pieces that weren't half bad. As the film opens, we learn that Cris Johnson (Cage), a smarmy Las Vegas magician, can see into the future — well, about two minutes ahead anyway. Besides fleecing casinos for a few bucks while careful not to attract attention, he's using this special ability to locate and charm his way into the life of Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel), who is literally the girl of his dreams.

But then unorthodox FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) shows up, in pursuit of terrorists, and the plot goes off the rails.

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Half a good idea would have been better than the other two or three the filmmakers came up with. Johnson's pursuit of his dream girl is funny and watchable, and it would have been enough to enjoy them in a quirky romantic comedy.

But no. Ferris has to show up with a embarrassingly lame-sounding plan to put Johnson's two minutes of foresight to work in ferreting out where terrorists plan to spark off a nuclear bomb. You have to wonder ... isn't someone who spotted Johnson's rare talent from casino security tapes even more clairvoyant than Johnson himself?

There are other clues this movie can't be saved. Most strikingly, usually an awesomely talented actor like Moore can help prop up a slumping story. But her performance is so stilted and mannered that she obvious thought it wasn't even worth trying to save.

Toward the end, I admit that the Matrix-inspired gun-play was fun to watch. But the ending (no spoiler here) is just a cheat that makes you embarrassed you decided to stick it out past that scene in the dentist chair.


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