My rating: 4/10
I was lowkey excited about this movie. Thrillers are awesome. Almost as awesome as horror. Action thrillers like this usually come with a shitload of entertainment value; even when the writing and plot are sub par, you can usually depend on some solid action sequences, special effects, and a few explosions to keep your attention.
This one? Not so much.
Honestly, I was surprised it got 6.2 on IMDB. I use that site to help me pick not-terrible movies, and now my trust in it is shaken AF! So, without further ado:
TL;DR version: I did not enjoy this movie, even for the entertainment value. If you don’t want to read my rant about it, that’s all you need to know. You’re welcome.
Those of you who want the ranty version, keep reading.
The following may seem like a spoiler, but I promise it’s not because all this shit I’m ranting about is shown near the beginning.
It starts promising enough. We’re introduced to Nicolas Cage’s character “Cris Johnson”, who is apparently a magician, but his magic is real, because he’s psychic. Kinda. He’s got this weird clairvoyance and future-sight where he can see under 2 minutes ahead. But it lowkey seems more like time travel, because he can try out different moves and backtrack seemingly at will. Or maybe it works differently, and that’s just a simplified version for the viewing audience. He can also kinda read minds? Distantly even? But only sometimes?
I have a lot of unanswered questions about this gift of his. For real.
So, somehow Julianne Moore’s character has discovered his power, and this movie is about her trying to get his help with finding a bomb. That’s the basic premise. Though, it’s not clear to me how she discovered him in the first place. If she explained it, maybe I zoned out—I did that a few times. There were monotones and weird over and under acting moments I was completely unprepared for in a movie with so many outstanding actors.
Speaking of good actors giving weird performances, his love interest, played by Jessica Biel, had me puzzled the whole movie. I mean, I know she can act. I’ve seen her do it. But in this movie, there were so many strange emotive expressions, I don’t even know how to describe them. Their chemistry was flat. Probably because the writing of the romance was terrible, and the entire romance was based on this character manipulating her with his magic, both the literal magic tricks from his stage act, and with him manipulating time to say exactly the right thing to get his way with her.
I mean, I get it. Most people, given a power like that, would probably do similar things. At least to avoid awkward situations. But when they met, she was in a diner, reading a book, clearly didn’t want the old dude ogling her to disturb her meal, but he would not take no for an answer and kept using his magic so he wouldn’t have to, until an abusive ex boyfriend conveniently gave him an in. And the movie treats this like it’s romantic.
It’s really not.
The soundtrack didn’t help. I am not a music person. I normally don’t notice the soundtrack in movies, unless it amuses me or is so bad it takes me out of the movie. In ‘Next’, there were a few moments where the music got so dramatic, it didn’t fit what was going on, on screen. Like massive orchestral crescendos as they’re screwing in bolts on a big metal thing. And weird sappy shit while the love interest is making weird anxious faces.
God, what else? I should have written this in essay format for the amount of shit I wanna attack: how everyone in the movie seems a little psychic with how conveniently they show up, or know shit, and then they become conveniently the opposite of psychic and conveniently have zero logic skills when it’s time for the MC to kick their asses. How the dialogue is forced, how cheesy his magical wooing is. There’s so much.
BUT, there were a couple things I didn’t hate. The action was fun. Especially the chase scenes, where it transitioned smoothly from one trick to another. The one at the beginning was probably the coolest, but there were others. And…
Actually, I think that’s it. That’s the only thing I liked about this movie.
Well! I guess I’ll wrap this up then. Should you watch this movie? If you’re the kinda person who likes to fall asleep to action movies, this is an excellent candidate for that! If you aren’t super critical and don’t care about romantic subplots, you might enjoy the cool action and magic tricks, just don’t expect stellar special effects. We could practically see the seams of the green screen. If you’re looking for a movie to keep you on the edge of your seat, maybe give this one a pass.
I love Julianne Moore. I’m so sad she was in this movie. I’m so sorry.
More Movie Reviews by Sam Clover: (These are less ranty, I swear.)
- Sorry to Bother You — Dark Comedy, Fantasy
- Don’t Listen — Horror
- Escape Room — Horror
- The Call — Horror
- Rebecca — Suspense, Romance
- The Perfect Date — Romance, Comedy
Sam Clover is an author of M/M speculative fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.