Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Review: Next

I've probably commented here before that I have read quite a few Philip K Dick stories, and seen quite a few films adapted from those stories, but never seen the film of the stories I've read (and vice versa).

True to form, I haven't read The Golden Man, the story on which Next - starring Nicolas Cage - was, loosely, based. But I did watch Next on TV recently, so here are a few of my thoughts. I actually didn't realise, until I started to watch the film, that it was based on a PKD story, or I might have made a point of watching it earlier (it was released in 2007). Trailers and reviews at the time didn't really grab my attention, or raise it above any other Hollywood action flick. With, it turns out, good reason.

Nic Cage stars as Chris Johnson, a man with an uncanny ability to see two minutes into the future, a power which he hides in plain sight by earning a living as a C-list Vegas magician, supplementing his earnings by winning at blackjack every now and then. Until, that is, he comes to the attention of the FBI who call upon him to save the world from an inadequately explained terrorist threat.

Explosions ensue, and with a bag of popcorn and a can of beer it's a reasonably entertaining way to spend an evening, but it never really lives up to the thought-provoking potential of a decent PKD story. (I am making the unfounded assumption that The Golden Man wasn't a rubbish story, of course.)

What it does live up to is a sort of mash-up of Groundhog Day, generic action movie, and romantic comedy, but without much comedy. Actually, if they had played it for laughs it may have been a better film... as it is, it doesn't seem to know what it is, with the result that it does half a job of being several things - none of them especially badly, but none of them well enough to warrant a second look. Sure, it's an interesting premise, there are some fun time-bending tricks as Johnson plays out various permutations of the next few minutes and uses his talents to fox the bad guys, and one or two amusing moments along the way, but they only serve to demonstrate how the film could have been better... Unfortunately the plot-holes, the blu-tacked on terrorist threat and the general nothing-specialness do sort of detract from the more promising moments.

Not bad for mindless vaguely sci-fi action, but could have been a lot better.

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