Next review by Matt Fuerst


I always find it pretty pompous to start any sort of writing with quotes, but hey, at least they aren't in Latin and they are pretty darn far from being indecipherable. The subject of the quotes in this case is one Nicholas Cage. After seeing Ghost Rider I was fully prepared to bring Cage up on charges. The charge sheet? Bad taste, ridiculous decision making, absurd existence-ness. I could go on, but I'd be repeating the same thing over and over. Cage has made some serious films, and has done very well in them, but never been elevated on par with a Gene Hackman or the like. Still, I think it's beyond argument that Cage has talent and can be a good actor in good movies. And I won't even argue that bad movies shouldn't be made, bad movies have their place, but Cage doesn't have to star in seemingly every one of them. Ghost Rider was pretty egregious, (I am a comic book nerd, and I even dislike the comic and knew the film would be a mess, and I was still surprised at how bad it was) but I considered Next to be Cage's potential redemption. Let's find out if my hopes are dashed and smashed.

Next has a pretty neat idea and a very big budget. That's a good starting combination. The basic premise is that Cadillac Johnson (Cage), a low level Vegas magician, has the ability to see his own future 2 minutes ahead of time. While most people would consider that a pretty nifty little talent, Cadillac has found himself chased and hounded his whole life for the ability. He's a broken down, tired man just trying to scrape by and keep a low profile. FBI Agent Callie Ferris (the talented Julianne Moore) somehow has a line on Cadillac, and wants to use him and his abilities to stop a potential terrorist attack. While this goal seems noble enough, Johnson wants no part in it, since he knows the seedy Government will never let him go once they use him, plus he only sees his own future, and only 2 minutes ahead of time at that. Not much help for a nuclear attack somewhere on the West Coast, right? Still with me?

Well things get a little more complex. In a plot element that merely seems tacked on for the sake of a female love lead, Cadillac had a vision that he was going to meet a beautiful woman in a local diner at 8 PM (note that this isn't 2 minutes into his future, it's just some day in the future at 8 PM). So he visits the same diner every day, waiting for her to enter in the door. With the FBI hot on his trail, Cadillac continues his ritual, and with superb movie timing, Liz Cooper (Jessica Biel) walks through the door. Conveniently enough, Cooper pulls weird tricks on Cadillac's omniscient ability. He's not quite sure what to believe when it comes to the future with Liz. By reading the outcome of every possible approach to Liz, Cadillac talks himself into a ride to Arizona with Liz. The couple make a stop in an Indian reservation where Liz volunteers. Once again, Next displays some bizarre plot choices, since I'm still confused about why they chose to add all this additional window dressing to the movie. I guess it sets up Liz as a bleeding heart, and it sets up Liz and Cadillac to have to stay the night in a scenic location. Still, so many moments, even at this halfway point in the film, seem so disjointed it's amazing it got past the first draft screenplay stage.

The FBI catches up with Cadillac and manage to persuade him to join them; Having his little honey Liz captured by the terrorist meanies with the nuclear weapon also provides a little motivation for Cadillac to find the bomb. I really am managing to bore myself even writing this, I've managed to look 2 minutes into my own future and realize that no matter which way I write this summary, I am going to be bored out of my skull, so I'll just hit a few highlights...

Cadillac finds the bad guys and manages to take down most of the baddies. As convenient for the now-horrifically bad story, Cadillac's powers mysteriously increase so that he can look at every possible outcome at the same time (in direct contraction to every previous statement of his powers) and for far longer than before. The only reason I can see the writers choosing this detail is that it allows them two scenes they thought were going to undoubtedly be cool.. Cadillac splintering himself like 30 times to search every deck on a ship, and Cadillac deciding which way to duck each time a bad guy fires a bullet at him. I am sure the writers were locked in a room and drooling with excitement over how groovy this was going to look, but it just delivered physical pain to me. The idea, the contradictions with the previous rules, multiple copies of Nic Cages' really bad hairdo, the whole thing.

So, as you imagine, nearing the crescendo of the film, I was looking at a major stinker. I mean it, a true 1 out of 10 ranking. And for you to get 1 Jackass on the Jackass-Critics-O-Meter, you have damn well earned it. SPOILER ALERT - Then, everything changed. Cadillac has rescued the girl, the FBI loves him, the bad guys are dead, and Cadillac is about to say "Gimmie some sugar" and slap Liz's delicious hiney when he realizes "I made a mistake". In the next 2 minutes, the nuclear bomb is going to go off... and melt the west coast, Cadillac and Liz's hiney included. And, miraculously, it happens. Cadillac, Liz's Hiney, FBI Agents, all the weirdos in California, gone, all gone. Melted and burned. "Yes" I proclaimed aloud in my living room, "That is the best movie ending ever!". I figured this was a sort of "tacked on ending". The filmmakers had watched the abomination they had created, realized it was a steaming turd, and decided the best plan to save it was to destroy everything involved with it, at least, within the film as much as they could. The movie immediately rocked up from a 1 to a 4 on the Jackass meter. Sure, some people were going to read my review and think "4, well, it can't be that bad" and to end up hating me for the first 80 minutes of the painfully crappy movie, but when that bomb went off I figured they'd all be saying "That Matt Fuerst, he really hit the nail on the head!".

Nic Cage and his ridiculously bad hair then go ahead and hit me with a low blow, when everything in the previous 85 minutes is erased when CADILLAC WAKES UP FROM HIS DREAM!!!!!. I don't care if I just ruined the movie for you, I just saved you people! I am like your Jack Bauer right now, that's how much I saved you!

I secretly wish the forced from the dreamed-nuclear blast was so hot that it actually melted the HD DVD of Next in my player, so as to ensure that no one was ever infected with this virus again. It's easy to be tricked into Next. Cage, Biel and Moore are three pretty good actors for any movie. And director Lee Tamahori has made some good movies, but please, do yourself a favor and skip it. If this was the safe flick of Cage, his next movie better be some serious groundbreaking stuff. Like, I want him to redo Mrs. Doubtfire or something, because Next is a four letter word.

1 out of 10 Jackasses
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