My Buddy is a Cage – Next (2007)

Next, meet Bangkok Dangerous. You two seem to be around the same age. What’s that? Oh I have no idea when you were born. I just… your hair…

In what I hope is the loosest of Phillip K. Dick adaptations, Cris Johnson (Cage) is an NFL running back ordinary man. Well, he can see into the future, but only for two minutes, so it’s not that weird. When Special Agent Julianne Moore tries to recruit Cris’ abilities for her emergency bomb squad, she blows his cover as a two-bit magician and he is forced to flee. He does manage to bump into Jessica Biel, a woman whom Cris has inexplicably had visions of much further ahead in time. She reluctantly agrees to give Cris a ‘lift’ (athank you) and the two connect as they escape federal pursuit. And remember that bomb squad? The cronies who want to set it off are looking for them, too. Or… aren’t they?

So I’m going to spoil Next because it gives the audience a gigantic, bird-haired middle finger and I am mad at it. If you’ve been to a movie theater recently, chances are that annoying phone commercial has played at least once in front of previews. And that bespectacled hipster salesman jokingly whispers, ‘It’s all a dream?’ Next is all a dream. One terrible, generic dream. 

Festering somewhere inside its final ten minutes, Next shocks us with an apocalyptic nuclear explosion, leveling the city of Los Angeles, Moore, Biel, and most importantly Cage, whose mental abilities have failed to predict the bomb’s detonation in time. It’s all very tragic and very bad CGI, but for such a conventional thriller, axing your main characters and their terrible love story takes balls. Sorry, axing your main characters would take balls, but Cage has actually worked out this whole plot in his head. None of this is real. Now I’m not implying the testicular absence of any creative minds here, but a ‘twist’ like this is so, so wrong. For one thing, we learn very quickly — and very repeatedly — that Cage’s future sight is limited, so when he proceeds to look far beyond that limit, the entire hook goes down the toilet. Imagine the Ewoks ditching their spears and boulders and just summoning the force at the end of Jedi, taking out the Empire’s shield generator in three minutes. Next is the not awesome version of that.

Why is Next even an action film? Most sequences feature Cage running from any number of things: agents, Euro-trash terrorists, casino security, his own mortality. That last one might be the most egregious, in that Cage is another transplant of a relationship with an extremely attractive female almost twenty years his junior — “Sandler Syndrome” if you will. Even forgetting the age difference, Biel would never fall for the transient magician thing so easily. Sure, there’s a sort of charming scene where Cage previews television channels before switching to them, but really. The bomb MacGuffin was bad enough, but the ambiguously European henchmen, headed by a comatose Thomas Krestchmann, pass off for a Cold War comic strip.

To pound this rusty nail even further, Cage phones in the crap out of this. No overacting. No glimpses of unappreciated genius. Nothing apart from doing that breathy, nasal thing from Bangkok. But in my commitment to fuel the neverending fire, TMZ recently reported Mr. Cage owes over $200 in late rental fees. For two movies. Bada bing.

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Want more Cage? You got it.

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