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Next is a 2007 film, whose original script was very loosely based on the science fiction short story The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick. The film is directed by Lee Tamahori and stars Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel. The film was released on April 27, 2007.

Plot

Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage) has the power to see two minutes into his future and works as a magician in Las Vegasmarker. Cris has a vision of a woman walking into a diner, far more than two minutes in his future. He knows the woman in his vision will arrive at 8:09, but does not know on what day or night, so he has been going to this diner twice a day every day to meet her. After he draws the suspicion of a Las Vegas casino by winning $10,000 in a series of winning blackjack hands, Cris slips by the frustrated security guards. While leaving, Cris stops an armed gunman who planned to murder anyone in his path. The following day, after evading a group of FBImarker agents led by Agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore), who wants his help with a terrorism investigation, Cris finally sees Liz (Jessica Biel), the woman from his dream. After attempting to envision all of the ways that he could introduce himself each time seeing his advances fall flat he charms Liz and persuades her that he needs a ride to Flagstaff, Arizonamarker. When a narrow mountain road is washed out, they are forced to turn around and stay at the Cliffhanger Hotel near the edge of a canyon.

Ferris tracks them and assembles a large team to bring Cris in. The terrorists, who have been watching the FBI, also follow, hoping to kill Cris before he can help the authorities. Agent Ferris confronts Liz while she is walking near the hotel and persuades her to drug Cris so that they can bring him in peacefully. Instead, Liz warns Cris, who tells her about his secret. When she asks why he will not help the FBI stop the terrorists, he tells her about the limitations of his ability. He can only see his future, and only two minutes in the future, but that he can see much further on matters concerning her. When Cris tries to escape, he is arrested, and the terrorists kidnap Liz.

In custody, Cris is strapped to a chair with his eyes held open and forced to watch television until he can have a vision that helps the FBI. He tries to find a way to save Liz after he envisions a news report (several hours in the future) of her strapped to explosives and executed by the terrorists. Finally, he sees that he cannot save her, and he has no option but to work with the FBI. Ferris promises to help save her as long as Cris will help her, and sets up a plan to draw out the terrorists.

Cris uses his future visions to find the terrorists and lead a tactical team on a raid to stop them. When they arrive, after a series of exchanges, Cris is able to walk right up to the terrorist leader and avoid being hit, by seeing where the bullets will go and dodging them. After killing the terrorists and saving Liz, they find that the bomb has already been moved. Ferris shows Cris a seismograph hoping that he will see any tremors caused by explosions before they happen. He does see the bomb going off, and that they are within its range. In the distance, they see the bomb detonate and it destroys them and the city around them.

In the next scene, Cris and Liz are still sleeping in the hotel. It is before Liz can go outside to be confronted by Ferris. Cris is reflecting that "every time you look into the future, it changes... because you looked at it." Because the nuclear weapon the terrorists have could hurt Liz, Cris has been able to see a day into the future. He calls Ferris to make a deal. Then he says his goodbye to Liz, asks her to wait for him and goes outside to meet Ferris.

Cast



Production

Gary Goldman and Jason Koornick initially optioned the science fiction short story The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick. Goldman wrote a script treatment that he and Koornick presented to Nicolas Cage's production company, Saturn Films, but Goldman ended up writing the screenplay on spec.

The original story's protagonist was a feral, non-sapient golden-skinned mutant in a post-apocalyptic world.

Original draft

This first draft had more similarities to the short story, detailing the efforts of a government agency to capture and contain a precognitive mutant.

To provide greater interaction between the opposing parties (as well as create a leading role), Cris was changed from a feral animal whose existence threatened humanity's into a more familiar and understandable social outcast. A romantic subplot was added: the character of Liz Cooper, who in this draft was not only destined to be the love of Cris's life, but a mutant as well (born in Love Canalmarker) and the only woman he has ever met with whom he can have children, herself incapable of procreating with normal humans.

As the original short story had a distinct tone of racist paranoia, the motivation for the pursuit of Cris was changed from an ironclad policy of exterminating mutations to a manipulative Department of Homeland Securitymarker (DHS) agent's obsessive search for unconventional assets in the war on terror, though the DHS began exhibiting this paranoia as their efforts to control Cris prove increasingly inadequate.

This script was filled with anti-authoritarian themes, with Cris often speaking clearly and eloquently of how he enjoys his independence. He states plainly that "what I want is freedom. And you don’t get it by giving it up." Though many uses of his gift are detailed by the DHS, Cris lives a simple life as a stage magician, only gambling in an extremely limited fashion.

The DHS is explicitly depicted as a completely unregulated, astoundingly powerful and unapologetically ruthless collection of fanatics, breaking laws without consideration and eager to torture and even murder innocent civilians to achieve their objectives. Forcing Cris's co-operation is just the objective that they are focused on, for it will permit them to achieve countless others. They wax poetic on their plans in using Cris as if he were a piece of machinery, most of which consist of using him as a "timescope"; that is, bolting him into a chair for the rest of his life so his only experiences are ones which are useful to them, a process which they believe would extend the range of his abilities. One agent suggests that they amputate his arms and legs, a suggestion his colleague considers humorous. That is, until she realizes Cris has probably realized the possibility of such an occurrence the instant it was proposed.

However, his enemies are skilled tormentors, and eventually they drive him to the breaking point: when the DHS learns that Liz is pregnant with his child, they coldly decide to have her executed at a pre-determined time, thus pre-emptively proving to Cris their determination to possess him. Even then all his efforts are focused on securing Liz's safety: an objective which the DHS, though only with great difficulty, is able to prevent him from achieving. Then and only then does he make his first and only counterattack on those who have abused him so relentlessly and thoroughly. He demolishes the Las Vegas DHS headquarters with a barrel of C-4 agents had seized earlier in a warrant-less search. His abilities, of course, ensure that Liz and he are the only survivors.

But one constant throughout the script was the knowledge that Cris is running for his life. The script begins with Cris's seeming infallibility informing him that the authorities will settle for nothing less than total control of his abilities. Cris thus constantly flees the DHS, sure that if he is captured he will be imprisoned for the rest of his life. This theory is never challenged: even as the film ends, Cris believes he is trading his freedom for his son's life.

The only clue as to his motivation for surrendering is a conversation between him and Liz Cooper in which he says that he wants a real family. Liz would never bear his child if he let the bombs go off, but by willingly accepting imprisonment, he might be able to keep the authorities from ever learning of his son's existence – he may be a slave, but he ensures his son will live free. He thus makes the ultimate sacrifice. "Not for millions, not for glory, not for fame. For one person, in the dark, where no one will ever know or see."

Saturn re-draft

Saturn Films had the script extensively rewritten, and in the process almost completely eliminated its anti-authoritarian themes. Though Cris remained a meek social outcast, he is somewhat less sympathetic; he is portrayed as arrogant, and far more prone to applying violent solutions. The DHS's role was replaced with the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker (FBI). Despite a scene in which Cris experiences his worst nightmare – spending the rest of his life strapped into a chair with his eyes wedged open – the authorities are portrayed as sympathetic, and Cris as uncooperative and belligerent. Their insistence on his obedience is reduced to the point that the authorities offer their assistance in rescuing Liz (whom they neglect to arrest despite her efforts to sabotage Cris's capture) from the terrorists. This leads to the film's greatest variation from the script – a confrontation with the terrorists (who now speak with Frenchmarker or Germanmarker accents) but still give no clue as to their motivations. During the confrontation, Cris willingly supports the FBI with his abilities in a series of sequences similar to those in the script, only with the authorities as allies instead of antagonists.

This was the script Saturn Films brought to the attention of Revolution Studios. Revolution Studios acquired the screenplay and in November 2004, Revolution Studios hired Lee Tamahori to direct the film, with Cage in the lead role. Filming was to begin in Summer 2005. In December 2005, Moore was cast as the federal agent who seeks people to help prevent future terrorism and uncovers Cage's character as a potential candidate. In November 2005, Initial Entertainment Group negotiated for rights of international distribution of Next, which had a target release date of 2007. In February 2006, actress Jessica Biel was cast as the love interest of Cage's character.

In May 2006, Starz! Entertainment's 14-episode reality television miniseries, Looking for Stars, gave 200 contestants the opportunity to earn a speaking role in Next, which was won by actor Marcus Welch.

Next originally was to be distributed by Sony Pictures, set to be released on September 28, 2006, but that studio dumped it in January 2007, and Paramount Pictures subsequently picked it up and released the movie on April 27, 2007 . Paramount previously released another film adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story, Paycheck, and owns the US rights to yet another, Minority Report, via its acquisition of DreamWorksmarker.

Box office performance

The film opened at #3 at the U.S. box office, grossing $7.1 million in 2,725 theaters in its opening weekend. In its eight-week run in the United States, it grossed a total of $18 million and has a combined worldwide gross of $64.7 million. Compared to other films based on Philip K. Dick stories, Next grossed less than Minority Report, Total Recall, Paycheck and Blade Runner – but performed better than Impostor, Screamers and A Scanner Darkly.

Reception

Next received mixed reviews. As of September 10, 2007 on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, 30 percent of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 108 reviews (32 "fresh", 76 "rotten"). On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 42 out of 100, based on 23 reviews.

Justin Chang of Variety said the film plays "like the cinematic equivalent of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel" and that the plot is highly reminiscent of 24. Chang also said "What starts out as a mildly diverting thriller blows itself to smithereens in the final reel", describing the climax as a "stunning cheat." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film 2½ out of 4 stars and said parts of the film are "fascinating" and "compelling" but that "the whole thing ends up collapsing under its own weight." Berardinelli said Nicolas Cage "seems to be going through the motions", "Julianne Moore brings intensity to the part of Callie, although the character is incomplete", "Jessica Biel is appealing" but "the character is unfinished", and that "Thomas Kretschmann is unimpressive as a generic 24-style terrorist." He also said "some viewers will feel cheated by what Next does, and it's hard to blame them." Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald gave the film 2 out of 4 stars and said the film looks like director Lee Tamahori "spent about 12 bucks on his special effects budget." Ogle said the film had a decent premise but "Next begins to seriously embarrass itself and its stars once it rolls to its climax." Toronto Star film critic Peter Howell gave the film 1½ stars out of 4 and called it a "colossal waste of time" and said it is "possibly the most egregious befouling of Dick's work to date." Howell said the roles "seem to be cut-and-pasted from other movies", called the film a "straight-to-DVD wannabe", and said the film "has one of the most infuriating endings ever."

Moira MacDonald of the Seattle Times gave Next 1 1/2 stars out of 4 and said "Late in the movie, Cris shouts at a bad guy, 'I've seen every possible ending here. None of them are good for you.' It's as if he's talking to the audience, and alas, he's right." and "Julianne Moore spends most of her screen time in Lee Tamahori's confused sci-fi thriller Next looking royally pissed off, like she got tricked into making the movie on a sucker bet. You can't blame her; this film's audience is likely to look that way as well by the time the end credits roll." Kalamazoo Gazette critic James Sanford gave the film 1½ stars and said "the only visions Next inspires are flashbacks to better films" like Honeymoon in Vegas, Leaving Las Vegas, The Illusionist, and Hannibal, adding "any film that makes someone wish he or she were watching Hannibal must be pretty awful." Sanford said "Cage performs as if he's on autopilot, Moore looks more miserable than she did as the suicidal housewife in The Hours, and Biel seems fully aware she was hired only to provide a few glimpses of cheesecake." Sanford also remarked, "the ending of this film is not just a colossal cheat, it's a hard slap in the face to anyone who has invested his or her time in watching it." Daniel Eagan of Film Journal International said the film "follows a familiar Hollywood pattern in which a few intriguing ideas are swamped by the demands of a big-budget, star-driven vehicle" and that it "won't add any luster to Nicolas Cage's resume." Eagan said "Half of Next is a clever, unpredictable thriller that plays with Dick's customary obsessions with time and reality. The other half is a sloppy, bloated adventure marred by cheesy special effects and some equally cheesy acting" and also that "the script to Next has plenty of [plot jams], one or two egregious enough to demand ticket refunds."

Orlando Sentinel critic Roger Moore gave the film 3 out of 5 stars and said "who says preposterous junk can't be fun?" Moore said "this sloppy little time-travel variation is a crowd-pleasing hoot, thanks mostly to Cage turning on the charisma and showing off his gift for hangdog understatement" and that the Groundhog Day-like attempts to woo Jessica Biel's character are "hilarious." Moore concluded "It's all so stupid and ends so perfunctorily that you can't call Next good, or even as good as the dopey Déjà Vu...but it does score over [Déjà Vu] in one important criterion. It's just fun." Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe gave the film 2½ out of 4 stars and called it a "watchably absurd popcorn flick" and that the film "bears almost no resemblance" to the original short story "The Golden Man", the short story it was adapted from. He described Moore's performance as "enjoyably curt" and said "alongside Cage's spontaneity, Biel seems humorless and earnestly dull." Morris said the film is fun "until it turns crass" and concluded, "when you're being toyed with that cheaply, you forget how much you admire Nicolas Cage's shamelessness and start to resent the movie's." Diana Saenger of ReviewExpress gave the movie 3½ stars and said "Next boasts a fresh plot with a tricky twist ending that can be misconstrued if you don't pay close attention and then pause to think about it." Saenger reported that it was Nicolas Cage's idea for Cris to be a magician, and that it was his suggestion that his wife be part of the scene where a woman comes out of the audience to be part of the magic show. Saenger remarked that people complaining about the twist being a rip-off probably didn't understand it and said it made perfect sense and concluded "I liked the surprise twist and found Next very entertaining."

The film was subject to the heckling of Bridget Jones Nelson and Michael J. Nelson in an October 2007 installment of Rifftrax.

Filming

Sections of the movie were filmed in the San Bernardino Mountainsmarker in Californiamarker. Mountain Locations used in production of the movie included Crestlinemarker, Running Springsmarker and Big Bear Lakemarker. The hotel featured in the movie, "The Cliffhanger", is actually a restaurant in the Crestline area that has remained closed for some time. The restaurant, located on a cliff, overlooks the City of San Bernardinomarker. In order to make the restaurant look more like a hotel, a facade was attached to the building. The facade is the section of the motel where Johnson and Liz Cooper were staying. Interior shots were filmed elsewhere. Following the end of production, the facade was removed. However, remnants of the signage placed and the paint works conducted remain intact. The property has been fenced off and a for sale sign has been posted. Running Springs served for scenes shot in the town. Scenes (in which a vehicle was rolled off the side of a cliff) shot in Big Bear Lake were shot at a campground. Due to the terrain located on the side of the cliff the Cliffhanger is located on, the producers decided to finish the scenes at the campground in Big Bear Lake.

References

External links




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