like this week’s the bourne inception, er, the adjustment bureau, next is also supposedly based on a philip k dick story. but like most dickdaptations(paycheck, imposter, screamers, and something called blade runner, a scanner darkly or minority report), it’s extremely loosely based on its original source. not that i care that movies are faithful to their original sources, but after having read (the wikipedia summary of) the original story “the golden man,” calling next a loose adaptation would give looseness a bad name. they should have just used “inspired by” instead of “based on.” no, p.k.d. did not write about a vegas magician.
nicolas cage plays the vegas magician cris johnson who can see two minutes into the future. i don’t know if he’s a mindfreak or not, but they should have just went the whole way and splurge at hot topic to make him look like one. all they did was giving him black wig, which looks suspiciously like the one from bangkok dangerous. anyway, the feds want him to help them find a nuclear device in l.a.(p.k.d. didn’t write about that either). the bad guy terrorists want him too, for reasons never explained. i don’t know what your mental picture of these terrorists are, but in the movie, they are just generic, white, “european” terrorists. there’s julianne moore as the leader of the feds, probably paranormal division since she seems to think that cage’s magician is the best way to prevent nuclear disaster. jessica “stealth” biel plays a cardboard, and supposedly hot love interest, who looks and acts like either an oscar statue or part of the belongings of goldfinger. that’s what you get from casting a tv actress from a christian/ptc approved wb soap opera.
with a 96 minutes running time and six of them being the end credit, next is simplistically divided into three acts. the first one is the most interesting where we see some cageness as the magician on stage, running around the casinos and showing his special ability. he also has voice over telling us what interesting themes and issues the film could have delved into. the second act on the reservation and cabin is where everyone from performers to screenwriter sleepwalk through. it ends with a pretty unexciting action sequence. the third act bounces back a little with some generic action scenes.
cage not only starred but also produced next. and as a cage-ist, a lot of the elements in the movie reminds me of his other movies. there’s the vegas stuff(honeymoon in vegas, leaving las vegas, con air), the reservation(windtalkers), the bomb in l.a.(face/off), the generic warehouse/junk yard action scenes(gone in sixty seconds), the breaking out of jail scene(the rock, by the way, can all magicians who can see the future beat five to six military guys?), the multiple cages(adaptation). there’s not that much on screen, so that’s what i think about when i was watching it. other than the opening scene, he’s in muted (wait for it) paycheck mode. and for a $70 million dollar movie, and the scope of the story, it feels surprisingly small scale.
a lot of people seem to feel cheated by the ending. i felt that way too at first but having some time to think about it, it does kind of work in a superhero origin kind of way, and feel slightly less cheated. next starts out with a lot of interesting ideas but ignores them and settles for the generics. it’s definitely not good, but it’s not bad enough to be entertaining(wicker man). it doesn’t blow minds like blade runner or minority report, it’s about on par with john woo’s paycheck, but with nicolas cage in it(which automatically makes it better). in cage cannon, it’s on the same level as the national treasures, better than ghost rider or gone in sixty seconds, but not as good as knowing. yet, it made the least at the box office compare to all of the above. they should definitely keep the first act when they make next: port of call new orleans.
next is currently available in my dvd collection.