Director: Lee Tamahori
Fans of John Woo’s Paycheck will enjoy Next, which like Woo’s film is also a science fiction action romance inspired by a short story penned by Philip K. Dick. Next, which is loosely based from the main concept of Dick's “The Golden Man,” by Gary Goldman (who also worked on Dick adaptations of Total Recall and Minority Report) along with co-writers Jonathan Hensleigh and Paul Bernbaum who also drew on creative contributions including the occupation of the main character from actor Nicolas Cage who also serves as a producer. Cage plays Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas magician who performs under the name of Frank Cadillac hiding behind the seedy atmosphere by performing cheap tricks for the tourists who don’t realize that he takes advantage of his natural ability to see a few minutes into the future in his act—thereby hiding in plain sight. Johnson uses his knack to help him win small fortunes in the casinos for whatever he may need without trying to call too much attention to himself but soon, he’s “discovered” by gaming authorities whose jurisdiction is usurped by government agent Callie Ferris (played by Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore). Ferris tracks down Johnson to try and lure him back into helping the government he’s avoided since he was a child when he was taken in for extreme medical and supervised testing after his gift was first identified. Cage tries to escape with the aid of attractive Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel) until he gets roped into helping Ferris stop a bomb threat to Los Angeles. While admittedly you must shut off your common sense to even begin to suspend disbelief enough to accept that a man can look into the future and see an infinite number of possibilities for each action and simultaneously coexist and carry on conversations in the present, Cage’s charm helps make this film work and he provides some nice humorous moments such as when he tries to come up with the perfect opening line to Biel in a diner in a scene that makes viewers instantly recall Bill Murray trying to seduce Andie MacDowell in Groundhog Day. To quote Orlando Sentinel’s Roger Moore, “Who says preposterous junk can’t be fun?” And as much as was the case with the preposterous Paycheck, the sheer style of the special effects sequences along with the appeal of Next’s trio of main actors keeps things fun indeed.