“Next”: Film review

Philip K. Dick stories have often made great movies. Sometimes the alterations don’t prevent the film from being a cult classic (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” – “Bladerunner”). Sometimes it’s hard to be taken seriously for liking the result, but hard to be taken seriously if you say you don’t (“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” – “Total Recall”). Sometimes the film stays close to the original book and the results are compelling and laudable (“A Scanner Darkly”). One thing’s for certain, Philip K. Dick was one of the most imaginative and prolific American writers of the 20th century, and his ideas have continued over the years to provide rich source material for Hollywood (“Adjustment Team” – “The Adjustment Bureau”; “The Minority Report” – “Minority Report”) and television (the forthcoming “Man in the High Castle).
It’s quite likely that “Next,” the first script for which was based loosely on “The Golden Man,” will not now or at any future time (even within or beyond the next two minutes) be considered a great movie, a cult classic, compelling, laudable, or rich and worth taking seriously.
That said, it’s still highly watchable. Not Nicholas Cage’s worst film by a long shot – that’s a toss between “Gone in 60 Seconds” (I wish I had been when I sat down in the movie theater for that one) and “8MM” — this is definitely no “Leaving Las Vegas” with Golden Globe and Academy awards either. Yet, what did you expect when Cage started doing films like “Ghost Rider” and “Drive Angry”?
This is a plot straight out of the 80s, with an 80s soundtrack to boot – just listen to the ‘tension-builder’ when the FBI are trying to lay a trap for Cris Johnson at the Cliffhanger Motel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6oFzJhDU_c) – doesn’t it sound just a touch like the “Running Man” soundtrack from 1987 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fpbgonlx-PM)? There’s a toothpick-sucking foreign bad guy dressed all in black and an English-accented lieutenant bad guy, presiding over a missing Russian nuclear warhead.
There’s a hard-talking female FBI agent (Julianne Moore) who is pushing her commanding officer hard to let her take a risk, if he’d just trust her! There’s even a cameo from Peter Falk (Columbo).
And, the Philip K. Dick element, there’s a humble misunderstood social outcast who can see the future – but usually only two minutes’ worth of it.
The only question is – does that really count as an “ending”?
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