Lowdown: Yet another failed Phillip K. Dick interpretation.
It feels like only yesterday when I have explained on this very blog how, generally speaking, Phillip K. Dick's science fiction stories have been so far well converted into movies, with A Scanner Darkly being the first major exception. With Next, the exception count is now two, which leads me to suspect that the former success stories are paving the way to subsequent future disasters.
Make no mistake about it, Next is a disaster. It's one of those films that are an insult to viewers' intelligence, one of those films that are so bad you just have to laugh them off.
Next's story follows Nicholas Cage, who seems intent lately on featuring himself in sh*t films (National Treasure, anyone?). This time he's a Las Vegas illusionist that actually has a superpower: he can see two minutes into his future and altar his course of action to get the desired results from his future. While the film says this is his superpower, he packs a bigger punch doing lots of other stuff which the film comfortably ignores explaining but uses in order to set its direction where it wants to go.
Next we learn that a nuke was stolen from "the Russian Federations", which given Next's orientation to address the moron in us has to be the film's way of saying "Russia". We don't know how and we don't know why, but for some reason every FBI agent is sure this bomb is going to reappear in LA. Julianne Moore (what is she doing in such a crap film?) is one FBI agent who knows how to locate the bomb - use Cage to help - so she focuses her efforts on catching Cage, only that Cage doesn't want to be caught.
Through a really badly written chain of events Cage gets in trouble with the law while Moore chases him. Then he gets chased by the terrorists themselves, who somehow realize Moore's plan and decide to prevent her course of action from ever taking place. Trouble is, we never learn who these terrorists are and what their motivation for blowing LA up is; all we know about them is that they appear to be slick and ruthless and they speak European. Yes, just like Die Hard 4.0, Next tries to work by appealing to the viewer - in this case, the dumb American - through their patriotism, xenophobia and ignorance - with "European" being the true manifestation of all things evil. One only needs to have an accent to be perceived evil.
Chased by the FBI, the police and the baddies, Cage meets a girl he kept on meeting in his dreams (Jessica Biel, who was obviously not cast for her acting skills). With Biel next to him, Cage can see longer into the future than two minutes, which helps him combat the evil terrorists.
Events turn into a self fulfilling prophecy: the baddies are being exposed by Cage only because they're hunting him down because they're afraid of him, and Biel on the other hand is in danger through her involvement because Cage got in touch with her in the first place.
You would think that from here on the plot would thicken, but it doesn't. Next is basically an excuse to have some lame action scenes connected together with what passes for a story, but as mentioned already the story lacks any logical affirmation. Actions are not explained, and many a silly thing happen for no particular reason. Characters are as full of depth as a TV reality show, and act the way they act for unfathomable reasons (why did Moore start the film tracking down a mysterious gambler with an army of agents in the first place?).
You sit, you watch, and you can't believe what it is that you're watching.
Best scene: Biel and Cage visit the Grand Canyon. The lovely scenery shots distract you for a second from the bad film you're watching.
Technical assessment: Colors are all over the place and details are lacking, whereas the sound is below par for what is a Hollywood action flick.
Overall: Next is one of those films that makes you wonder how come the filmmakers didn't realize they were creating such a lemon. It's raw bad, 1 out of 5 stars.