Next is a stupid movie, almost as if it were de rigeur for a book based on a Philkdick short story. And yet the ideas in Philkdick’s stories often demand schlocky film versions. What other way does Hollywood have to illustrate various ideas about temporal displacement and identity but with lots of guns and explosions? Well Richard Linklater tried with wobbly drawings in A Scanner Darkly, but it didn’t rake in the big bucks. Sometimes you just want an action movie with an original premise.
And that time is when you’ve had four pints. And I had, and with the exception of a slow middle period which was probably called “characterisation” in the script, entertain with explosions is what Next does. The plot: a man can see two minutes into his own future, is a intriguing one. Next ditches it almost instantly for some hokum including terrorists with a nuclear bomb.
OK: you are a terrorist who has stolen a nuclear bomb. You find out the FBI are staking out a bloke who can apparently see two minutes into the future so they can catch you. Do you:
a) carry out the plot that involved the bomb
b) try to find the bloke
Two minutes isn’t much of a headstart after all. Not with nuclear ordinance. Okay, question two: The FBI have got the man who can see two minutes into the future. Do you
a) carry out your plot as soon as possible before they can utilise two minute man
b) kidnap his girlfriend for no good reason
And it continues like this. Unlike, say, Paycheck: Next is peppered with good actors and good action scenes in search of the story that makes the most of its plot. However there are flashes in the film where it really does make the most of its fortune telling conceit. The sequence where Nic Cage searches an entire area by looking into the future to see what would happen if he looked in various directions teases the audience into other questions. What is the subjective time in Cage’s head while he looks into the future. Can he look into himself looking into the future? Is that really Julianne Moore being the bad-assed FBI agent (yes, and good she is too). So it’s a pity that the film suddenly allows Cage to look six hours into the future, and while the ending is apt, it pissed a lot of people off in the cinema. But the following equation does hold, just about:
(Dumb Terrorists + Phillkdick story + ninety minutes runtime) x n.beer = fun!