So much for sci-fi

Next finds too much comfort in the conventional for a movie about seeing the future

SEEING THE LIGHT<br>Nicolas Cage tries out the latest in designer sunglasses, and unfortunately drawing attention to his unsightly hair-piece.

Nicolas Cage tries out the latest in designer sunglasses, and unfortunately drawing attention to his unsightly hair-piece.

Starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel. Directed by Lee Tamahori.
Rated 2.0

Given that Next is based on a Philip K. Dick story ("The Golden Man"), and stars hotshots like Nicolas Cage and Julianne Moore, it’s too bad the filmmakers didn’t have the lead character’s ability to see into the future and perhaps alter it to actually make the movie good.

Cage returns to the screen after the fiery flop that was Ghost Rider with yet another horribly bad hairpiece. Seeing beyond it is a chore in itself, and believing that with it he can attract the likes of Jessica Biel is flabbergasting.

Next follows Cris Johnson (Cage), a Las Vegas showman who can see the future—well, only two minutes ahead—and has the power to change it at will. His abilities, though not lucrative on stage, have attracted casino security as well as an FBI agent (Julianne Moore) who thinks Cris can save Los Angeles.

It turns out terrorists have gotten hold of a nuclear bomb and Moore’s character, Callie Ferris, wants Cris to help her find them before they detonate it. Cris, not wanting to be the FBI’s permanent freakshow, uses his abilities to elude Callie, while pursuing the woman of his dreams.

Cage—physical atrocities aside—plays his same old self. Kind of sad, reluctantly handsome, quick with the kicks to the head. Pairing him with the much younger Biel is unlikely and forced, at least on her part. And the usually wonderful Moore couldn’t look much more dumpy and uninterested than she does here.

The mediocre performances complement a mediocre plot that starts out strong and engaging, with the story whipping us back and forth between the present and possible future. After the novelty wears off, though, the film fizzles into conventional territory with an ending that leaves us guessing the answers to big questions. For example, why do terrorists want to blow up L.A.?

Director Lee Tamahori (XXX: State of the Union, need I say more?) shows us the few tricks he has up his sleeve, including a pretty comical fight scene inside a diner. But overall, the film feels more like a straight action flick than a sci-fi thriller and lacks the imagination we’ve come to expect from Dick adaptations (Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly).