Friday, November 30, 2007

Movie Chat: Next


Next would make a great double bill with Deja Vu with the theme of Time Travel Thrillers That Were Better Than I Expected (but I'm Still Glad I Waited to See Them on DVD).

Or you could double bill it with Ghost Rider under the theme Star as Auteur. Or should that be Starteur? Anyway, Nicolas Cage seems to be making movies about guys who are flashy showmen onstage and withdrawn and alienated weirdos off. They just need the love of a beautiful woman to convince them they need to interact with the world.

I think Cage is pretty good in these roles, although maybe "good" is the wrong word since what he's doing is a little bizarre and we might question the validity of the entire project (i.e., working out personal issues through big budget action star vehicles). Still - he ends up giving these movies, well, not depth, but at least some genuine humanity amid all the neat CGI effects and explosions.

But the best part of Next is (slight spoiler) that just when you're worried that they're going to keep the thing going for another twenty minutes, they wrap it up. Nothing pushes a big action movie from Mediocre over the line into Pretty Decent like a 90 minute running time.


Braccia said...

I watched NEXT and GHOST RIDER in the same week. You're right about the performances being linked. He even carries over a prop between GHOST RIDER, he carries around a martini glass full of jelly beans. In NEXT, he struts around with (the same?) martini glass full of...well, martinis.

Anonymous said...

Hm... I actually found it incredibly disappointing. I watched it in the context of a screenwriting class that also had us read the original screenplay (very, very different from the finished film) and the Phillip K. Dick story it was "inspired" by.

But I did see the movie first (so it wasn't adaptation bias or something). For one thing, it had the same motiveless Euro-trash terrorist villains (cf. "Die Hard" and "xXx") at the same time that Homeland Security played a major role in the story. You can't explicitly ID this as a post-9/11 reality with all those ramifications, and then cut-and-paste in lazy stock villains.

Also, Jessica Biel was a device, not a character. This is rather typical of action thrillers these days, but the tiny bits of characterization they gave her seemed so randomly generated (she teaches poor Native American kids and had an abusive ex?) and she had so little autonomy that her character was especially egregious.

(cont. in next post)
-Robert K.

Anonymous said...

And worst of all, the movie broke its own rules. So, Cage's character can only see 2 minutes into the future except when he's with Jessica Biel, right?
That's why he can see what happens if he tries to go off with Jessica Biel.
So when he agrees to go with Julianne Moore and DHS at the end, it solves nothing. He won't be able to prevent the terrorists from striking because he can still only see two minutes into the future!

Plus they totally waste Peter Falk.

So I would have to say it does fall more along the mediocre end of the spectrum.
-Robert K.

Jon Hastings said...

Robert - It doesn't hold up very well to scrutiny, that's for sure. (But it seems like none of these big budget time travel pix have an ounce of the wit of Primer).

As for Jessica Biel's character: I'm not sure she's any more of a device than anyone else there, aside from Cage. (Ghost Rider is much better on this account: Eva Mendes gets to play a character, even if it is one we've seen too many times before.) That's partly why I find the movie interesting mainly as a vehicle for his performance/autobiography/ working-out-of-his-issues/etc.

I'm also tired of Eurotrash villains and will be writing more about that in my upcoming post re-appraising Hostel.

lacochran said...

Are there time warp movies that don't have holes in them? I still liked the basic premise. :)