There’s a fundamental problem to all Nicolas Cage films these days; it’s his image. It’s not really his acting – far better than Keanu Reeves – or his physical appearance – sort of a bumbling man in mid-life crisis – but the ‘feel’ he gives that sometimes makes it hard to take him seriously. I mean, it’s not like he can’t do action films, since he’s usually a meek character who will use brains instead of brawn, which fits him well.
Despite all this bias I have against him (see the National Treasure entry from a while back), this time he really has nothing to do with it. That last statement should tell you how I felt about Next.
The plot was well-conceived in the beginning, albeit without much background or depth – say, who the generic European terrorists are and why they want to blow up Los Angeles besides “I hate America.” The link between the Cage’s and Jessica Biel’s character is unexplained except a vague gesture at ‘fate.’
The, er, clairvoyance parts are actually acceptable, but contrived (of course). If nothing else, it’s endlessly entertaining to have Nicolas Cage die over and over again and have it somehow add to a scene. The visions become increasingly annoying though, since their only real purpose to be in the film is to shove the “I CAN SEE THE FUTURE” thing into your face.
The lead-up to the movie’s ending is, again, acceptable. Fortunately, sort of like the precognition present in the film, I sort of twinged onto the fact that something’s wrong when the line, “I made a mistake” was uttered. Sure enough, it jumps the shark in about six seconds.
I’m not against creativity in plot devices or coherence, but damn it, if you knew that viewers are going to throw up their hands in disbelief at your Outer Limits ending twist (TM), you probably shouldn’t do it. And I really can’t see how they would not know in advance that playing the ‘it was a dream’ card is going to piss off the audience. Come on, guys. You kept a leash on the plot and on themes remotely worth pondering, kept exposition at saturation levels, walked every stupid member of theatre through your masterful creation, so can you please, at least clean up after yourselves and make it a decent ending? (Apparently, no.)
And I just found out from Wikipedia that it’s actually a ‘loose adaptation of a novel,’ so that’s another work added to the list of Hollywood victims. It’s especially disappointing when I think back on Jumper from a while ago, where they just decided to have fun with the idea and make it awesome.