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NEXT

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Tory Kittles, Peter Falk
Director: Lee Tamahori
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: September 25, 2007

“Here’s the thing about the future; every time you look at it, it changes…because you looked at it. And that changes everything else.”

Film ***1/2

Next is a phenomenal entertainment that manages to be the most inventive time-altering movies in quite sometime. As much as I was impressed by Tony Scott’s recent time travel flick, Déjà Vu, this one thrills and entertains even more with its plot involving the prevention of a disaster that has yet to happen, even though the other movie was about a disaster that already DID happen. And leave it to Nicolas Cage to create yet another fantastic performance in the process.

The movie is another film translation of story by legendary science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The screenplay also happens to be adapted by the same screenwriter, Gary Goldman, who marvelously adapted another Philip K. Dick story, Minority Report. And the great thing with Next is that it plays out its time altering plot with a most original kind of payoff.

And back to Cage, who is working harder and appearing in more movies today than any other actor, which makes me happy because he remains one of the best actors to ever grace the screen. What I respect most about him most, as an actor, is that he’s always up for a challenge by doing diverse work. Even when the result isn’t successful, as was the case with the remake of The Wicker Man, Cage always takes risks and that illustrates passion.

Cage plays Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas magician who harbors a secret ability. Ever since childhood, Cris has been able to see exactly two minutes into the future. But his premonitions only concern his future and no one else’s.

The movie has loads of fun showing how Cris can use his ability to save his own neck. There are even several points in the movie where the movie tricks us by showing something unexpectedly happening, only to pull back and reveal that it was a vision our hero was having. Such is the case with an early scene where Cris prevents a casino robbery and has to elude authorities when appearing to be nothing more than crazy.

Cris’ secret ability soon becomes not so much a secret once the government becomes involved. FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) becomes interested in Cris because she strongly feels that his unique ability can help prevent a major catastrophe. Some foreign terrorists have planted a nuclear bomb somewhere in L.A. and plan to detonate it soon.

But Cris soon goes on the lam, not wanting to be a government “stooge”. After meeting a beauty named Liz (Jessica Biel) and saving her from an attack, he hits the road with her to a location near the Grand Canyon. However, the FBI is closing in on Cris’ whereabouts and once Liz wind up in the hands of the bad guys, Cris discovers that he very well may have to cooperate and help Agent Ferris.

Though I will complain that the villains in the movie seem like 24-rejects, it doesn’t matter because Next has already gone enough working for it in terms of plot, character, pacing and all around excitement. It does thrill consistently and places you right in the shoes of the Cage character as he continuously glances into the future to look for clues. And to top it all of, the movie ends on a twist that is unique and original, which is hard to come by in the movies these days.

And yet, this movie couldn’t seem to find an audience during its theatrical run, which really surprised me. Maybe it was either improper marketing or simply bad timing, but the bottom line is that this movie really deserved to be a box office hit. Let’s hope DVD gives the movie the second life it deserves.

Video ****

This anamorphic release from Paramount is incredibly stunning in frame after frame. The image quality is incredibly clear and crisp from beginning to end with an amazing level of color to go along with the proceedings. Not a single image flaw to be detected in sight!

Audio ****

The superb 5.1 mix is thoroughly alive with fury during the presentation of this action packed thrill ride. Action and effects are a plenty in the movie, providing some fantastic sounding sequences. In addition, music and dialogue delivery are also first rate!

Features **1/2

Featured on the disc are four featurettes; “Making the Best Next Thing”, “The Next Grand Idea”, “Visualizing the Next Movie” and “Two Minutes in the Future with Jessica Biel”. Also included are a couple of Bonus Previews.

Summary:

Next offers a surprisingly fresh spin on the time-altering plot with fantastically entertaining results. With that level of entertainment value, as well as Nicolas Cage once again in top form, one would be foolish not to make this movie their Next choice.

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