Next (2007) (F)

IMDb / Rea / Ingman
Written by a series of shiftless, talentless idiots
Directed by Lee Tamahori

I’d never watch something like this, but a friend sent me an effusive email detailing how terrible it was and that I should watch it and see the ineptitude myself. It’s tempting to just post his email here, because I agree with everything he said, but that would be as lazy as the people who wrote this mess so I’ll put in a little bit more effort. It’s a movie about seeing a short time into the future, which – besides being impossible to make a decent movie about in the first place – should twig them to the fact that every single negative review will make a bad joke about it. Here’s mine: the future showed me turning the movie off and watching more Simpsons re-runs. But my friend’s words bound me to finish it.

The laziness of the writing truly astounds. I’m not kidding here: if anyone – you, my four year-old nephew, Rob Schneider – sat down and watched this, they’d think of better ways to write every last scene or line of dialogue. Without thinking. Things in this movie that are totally unexplained: 1) Cage’s ability to see the future 2) the reason for a plot to destroy Los Angeles with a nuclear weapon 3) why Cage can see all of Biel’s future, but nobody else’s 4) why Julianne Moore is hanging out at shitty Vegas magic shows looking for someone to help find said nuclear weapon… etc. A dead hooker appears in a shot for literally no apparent reason. The ‘it was all a dream’ cop-out is used more ridiculously than ever before. Worst of all, the film is 90 minutes long, but barely anything happens in the first hour, a balance which utterly fails to make you give a shit at any point.

Of course they’re not alone, though. In fact, it’s obvious throughout that every single person involved knows they’re working on D-grade trash. Every single person. And not the entertaining kind of trash, either, the kind which has violence or really bad acting or unintentionally funny lines. No, I imagine this film set was populated entirely by people who were only there for the coffee and donuts. I wonder how big Cage’s trailer was. I wonder what he thought as he looked over the day’s re-writes. Probably ‘do it for Kal-El’ or something, but I’d like to think there would’ve been a healthy dose of ‘gots to get paid’ in there. Anyway, the CGI smacks you over the head and says “I AM NOT REAL”, the cinematography ignores all basic film shooting principles at some point or another, and Tamahori’s direction is now officially the opposite of what it was back in ’94.

I do like Nicolas Cage as an actor, and I do always derive some enjoyment from his work, but he has two modes. One is mega-brilliant, inspired, inhabit-the-character Cage that we saw in Adaptation. and Leaving Las Vegas, while the other is often hilarious, sometimes overdone, always phoning-it-in Cage of Con Air and The Wicker Man. And in mode 2, which he offers up here, he is the least assuring person in the world to say the words, “Look at me. It’s okay. It’s over.” I’m not saying the role should’ve gone to someone else – nobody’s right for it – but he’s particularly not right for it. Same goes for Julianne Moore, the least urgent FBI agent handling a broken arrow crisis ever. Jessica Biel looks lovely as always, but pretty face can only distract for so long.

The music sucks, too. It’s all turgid shite, film ‘entertainment’ in the loosest sense of the word. The only thing I wouldn’t change is that bit where Dr. Strangelove was on the TV. In the above picture, an exchange of outrageous mediocrity has just taken place between Biel and a girl, the result of which is Biel learning that Cage ‘likes’ her; cut to Cage “leering at her like a deranged mental” as my friend so eloquently put it. The director asked for wistful, bashful longing; he gave him deranged mental. The audience asked for a solid helping of meat and taters sci-fi action; they were given a slice of mouldy bread and a packet of instant mash.

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