Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
|Featuring:||Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Tory Kittles, Michael Trucco|
|Producer:||Gary Goldman, Jason Koornick, Nicolas Cage|
|Distributor:||Paramount Pictures / Sony Pictures Releasing|
“If you can see the future. You can save it.”
To be perfectly honest, I have never cared for the “movie quality” rating, because it is not always related to whether or not I would recommend the movie. I have given movies far worse than this better “movie quality” ratings, but I could not bring myself to give three stars to “Next.” Sometimes you want to enjoy the film, but at other times you want to throw your popcorn at the screen.
“Next” is based on a Philip K. Dick story called the “The Golden Man.” Those familiar with Philip K. Dick know that his stories usually involve characters who in some way, fashion, or form do not know reality from fantasy. In “Blade Runner,” we could not tell humans from replicants. In “Minority Report” we did not know if the future was real or not. In “Paycheck” we were treated to a similar plot involving a character who could see into the future. Now, for the third time, we have a character who can see into the future, but this time his foresight is limited to two minutes in the future. Can he stop a nuclear terrorist attack?
The movie is directed by Lee Tamahori who was responsible for “Die Another Day,” the often criticized, but financially successful, fareware of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. The result is similar to “Die Another Day.” Tamahori seems to get lost in his action, and the plot disappears amid a barrage of sometimes over the top action. In the case of “Next,” the real problem is with the ending. Just when we start to enjoy the film, they attempt to “fool” us with an ending that was either forced, faked, or perhaps the author just didn’t know how to end the film at all. I went with my brother, and after seeing the ending he said he wanted half his money back. If you see the film, you will know why he wanted only half his money back.
Spiritually, the movie touches upon the questions of destiny and fate, but it never develops them in any substantive way. Destiny, however, is different from predestination, just as fate is different from providence. Both destiny and fate draw their inspiration from eastern religions, and omit God from the picture. In the Bible, God is the true author of history. He chooses to allow us a certain measure of free will, but our lives are not like a man rolling the dice. God has a plan for our lives and guides us. In the eastern view, we are “fated” to a certain destiny, but that destiny is determined not by an intelligent God but by an evolutionary/pantheistic determination made by chance. According to this view we cannot change our fate, but that fate was determined purely by accident. It is important that Christians understand the difference in predestination and destiny and between fate and providence. Our lives are not subject to a chance fate, but to the will of the Living God.
Morally the movie is on par with all too many PG-13 movies today. There are no fewer than 10 curse words including to F-bombs. While there is no on screen sex or nudity, the heroine walks out of the shower wearing nothing more than a towel, and after some passionate kissing it becomes apparent that they have sex as they wake up in bed together. Of course, this was their first date, so to speak! Violence is again the real culprit. There are many shootings, particularly toward the end of the movie. There is a dead woman’s body shown with blood on the floor. Several people are shot by snipers, but the worse scene was where a woman was blown up. Although the camera was far back and not explicit, the scene was quite realistic. We may not have been able to see the details in their gory details, but it does appear that we can see at least one body part flying in the air.
In summary, I felt the movie was very mixed. The plot was quite interesting at times, but too often took a back seat to the action scenes. One curious choice in the movie was to make the terrorists French. It was clearly a PC choice. Why the French? Obviously, they didn’t seem to want to offend Muslims, and perhaps no one likes the French enough to complain, but it still seemed a rather obvious nod to the whole PC movement which fears offending Muslims even amid a war on terror being waged by Muslim extremists. The biggest problem was that the director (or perhaps it was the screenwriters fault) didn’t seem to know how they wanted to end the movie. I won’t give anything away except to say that twist endings are only good if they aren’t viewed as cop outs. Perhaps they wanted a “popular” ending. Perhaps they wanted a sequel (as someone suggested). In any case, the ending they had was disliked by nearly everyone in the theater. Maybe the DVD will have an “alternate ending” that is more appealing, but we will have to wait until DVD to see that. In fact, you might want to wait for DVD anyway. It is not a bad movie, just a misguided one that could have been much much better.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.