Nicolas Cage is a geek. He named his son Kal-El. Based on that fact alone, Cage is probably an even bigger geek than you. But unlike you, he is an A-list Hollywood film star and gets paid $20 million a picture. Kind of hard to top that at the local comic book shop, isn't it?
Cage's latest entry into the world of film is Next. It is actually his third film set in Las Vegas and tells the tale of a third-rate magician working on the strip. The reality is that he can see into the future. He has a pretty good life, gambling and stealing cars to top up his income.
Into this life arrives Callie Ferris from the FBI who wants him to find out when and where in the US a stolen nuclear device is going to go off. The problem is Cage can only see two minutes into the future. Hope the FBI has fast cars!
This setup leads us on a merry ride of a film as Nicolas Cage evades the FBI. Along with him is Liz, a woman that he saw in a vision once. It was the only vision that came from further away than two minutes.
This film uses the "sees two minutes into the future" to the fullest. But the producers know the audience needs to be trained on how this works. Therefore we are treated to several scenes where the action plays out one way and then rewinds to play out another based on the information Cage has gained from his talent. It's a tossup for the best one of these scenes. The scene where Cage works his way through a variety of pick-up lines is nice, but can it really beat the one where you see Nick Cage get shot over and over and over again?
And the location scouting done by Scott Bigbee is to die for.
There are two real problems with this film: special effects and casting. In one of the big scenes of the movie, Cage runs down the side of a hill, while being chased, all while various antique vehicles, hurtle down the slope. The descent of the vehicles is rendered in CGI, bad CGI. The lighting and the proportions were all off when compared to the live action shots making their CGIness obvious. To be honest, I've seen better on YouTube.
But it was the choice of Jessica Biel as the love interest that causes the most problems. Don't get me wrong, she is a good actress and does a passable job with the part, but it is the age difference between her and Nicolas Cage that causes the problem.
In order to disguise that the leading man is twenty years older than his love interest (and remove the creepiness reminiscent of your dad hitting on the new kindergarten teacher at meet the teacher night), the movie's producers tried to "young up" Cage.
In order to do this, they have darkened his hair and given him a tan. The problem is that the hair colour does not match his skin tone. Both, like the CGI, are off and serve only to draw even more attention to the fact that Cage is in his forties. If it had been done better, they might have pulled it off, but given that Cage's eyeliner was obvious and his skin is only a few shades darker than his leather jacket, they hired the wrong people.
Realistically if their budget wouldn't let them hire the best make-up artists to pull it off, then they should have hired a slightly older actress. Don't get me wrong, this is a fun movie and you'll enjoy the premise, the action and the humour. Ignore the flaws, and you'll have a good time. Or mock them and you will have a great time.
And if you love it, no need to worry, the producers have left it open for a variety of sequels, although I hope they don't take the obvious route because that movie would not be one that I would go see, even if the boys at RevolutionSF ask nicely.