What's 'Next'? Goofy

Posted: April 27, 2007

"Next" is about a guy with the power to see into the future.

Because he's a guy, he uses this power to sleep with Jessica Biel, rather than prevent Los Angeles from being destroyed by a nuclear bomb.

"Next" sees no inconsistency here. It just assumes that any straight man who's viewed Biel's swimming pool scene from "Summer Catch" is going to have the same set of priorities, war on terror notwithstanding.

It's only when terrorists kidnap Jessica and drag her to ground zero that the guy (Nicolas Cage) grudgingly agrees to help an FBI agent (Julianne Moore) find the bomb, and only because the bomb and the girl are in the same city.

As you may have deduced, "Next" is a flagrantly goofy movie, and not just because of its straight-faced insistence (kudos to Moore for not laughing) that the only way the FBI can stop this terror plot is by recruiting a Vegas magician named Chris Johnson (Cage, looking weirdly bronzed and lacquered) who can see what's going to happen to him two minutes' hence.

"Next" has some narrative fun with this gimmick: The magician always has two minutes' advance notice of everything, so he's virtually impossible to apprehend.

A typically clever sequence has Chris throwing an object at the head of a pursuer who has yet to round the corner. Boink. The best idea has Chris trying to hit on Biel's character, using his powers of premonition to try a series of pick-up techniques until he arrives at one that works.

It's so much fun, you wish the movie weren't actually about the annihilation of a major U.S. city. That part could have been taken more seriously. Who are these terrorists, aside from an unexplained coalition of French, Germans and Asians? Why are they trying to destroy Los Angeles? Was it because of "X-Men 3"?

In the end, we've been exposed to so many fake-out premonitions that we're not sure whether Los Angeles has been destroyed. All we know for sure is that Biel has not made her mandatory appearance in a bikini. Oh well, there's always "Stealth." *

Produced by Nicolas Cage, Todd Garner, Norman Golightly, Graham King, Arne Schmidt, directed by Lee Tamahori, written by Gary Goldman, Jonathan Hensleigh, Paul Bernbaum, music by Mark Isham, distributed by Paramount Pictures.

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