Next is based on a story by Philip K. Dick and has nothing to do with the song by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Nor is it linked in any way to the fashion and lifestyle chain of retail stores. I just wanted to get that cleared up before I start. Now I believe that the world in general, pretty much wiped their critical backsides upon this film upon its release. There were complaints regarding the lack of plot explanation, back story and character motivation. I dealt with all these points by simply engaging my brain and sense of imagination. It is not essential for every nuance of a storyline to be telegraphed in great detailed. I do not like to be cinematically spoon fed. But there again, I am not afflicted with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Now that we’ve got this matter out of the way let us press on. Next is far from a masterpiece; however it is neither the dog’s dinner some would claim.
Nicholas Cage plays a Vegas stage magician who has the ability to see two minutes into his own future. This ability has the added complication that each time he uses it there is the risk of altering the events he sees. Subsequently it's been a curse to him all his life and so he hides in plain sight, in the only environment that can provide suitable cover for a man of his unusual talents. It's not long before the government want to pressgang him in to helping them with a terrorist threat involving a stolen nuclear device. As per usual with films of this kind, the intelligence services rather than simply ask for cage's assistance are more content to strong arm him. A romantic subplot involving a woman Cage meets in a diner (Jessica Biel) soon becomes a potential bargaining chip for both the government and terrorists alike.
Next is classic example of big budget, formulaic, studio driven entertainment. All required elements are present and correct. The romantic sub-plot is inoffensive, there are some enjoyable action scenes as well as some arresting visual devices used to demonstrate and convey Mr Cages's abilities. Lee Tamahori directs in a suitable manner for such a commercial project, having handled such studio productions before. Yes this movie is “safe” and nowhere near as challenging as Tony Scott's Deja Vu. However Next is not the cinematic donkey it's been accused of being and provides enjoyable escapist entertainment. Nicholas Cage movies are often a lottery but this one actually suits his style and demeanour.
Something that comes up a lot with regard to Next is the inconsistent nature of the science that drives the plot. This was a common complaint in many a review when the movie was released in 2007. I would argue since when has Hollywood science stood up to close scrutiny? Take a classic film such as Fantastic Voyage which despite having a great premise and outstanding production design, is filled with flawed or incorrect science. Does one particular failing mitigate a movies other attributes and rob it of any entertainment value? I think not. Let us not forget that movies require the audience to suspend their sense of disbelief and also that pedantry is seldom a virtue.