[Movie Review] Next

NextStarring: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Peter Falk
Director: Lee Tamahori
Genre: Sci-Fi
Cert: 15
Released: 2007

Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage, who it seems has appeared in every movie for the last five years) is a Vegas magician whose corny, low-key act doesn’t seem to raise many eyebrows around town. But FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) is a keen observer because she suspects there’s more to it than an “act”.

And she’s right. Johnson can see any event two minutes in to the future as long as that event impacts his own life. For Ferris it’s a matter of life and death as she’s got international terrorists with a nuclear warhead (obviously) and she wants Johnson to track down its exact location before it is detonated.

But Johnson doesn’t fancy it and he goes on the run with Liz (Jessica Biel), a local stranger who for a reason unknown to him enables him to see much further in to the future than he otherwise could. Johnson wants to know why but with the FBI and the terrorists trying to track him down, will he live long enough to discover?

“Next” is borderline diabolical and features a cast who know they are starring in a hell of a turkey. Nic Cage rolls out his jaded, slack-jawed character and even the few moving scenes he and Biel share are trite. Julianne Moore – one of my favourite Hollywood ladies – is only short of rolling her eyes as she wrestles with weary lines and a director in Lee Tamahori who is unable to breathe life in to what turns out to be a disappointgly linear story. Peter Falk appears for a couple of minutes and it’s great to see the old boy who is 81 this year.

The whole thing is almost a plot-hole in itself but in its defence the final ten minutes go some way to giving a tiny level of satisfaction.

1halfstar

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[Movie Review] The Forgotten

The ForgottenStarring: Julianne Moore, Anthony Edwards, Linus Roache, Gary Sinise, Dominic West, Alfre Woodard
Director: Joseph Ruben
Genre: Thriller
Cert: 12
Released: 2004

Julianne Moore, one of my guilty Hollywood pleasures. Her name on a movie promo poster is normally all the encouragement I need to have a peek. She’s got talent and beauty. That’s pretty much my checklist taken care of. We’re gonna kick straight in to this review because this one is going to be difficult to review without giving too much away.

Telly (Moore – “Magnolia”, “The Hours”, “Assassins”) is mourning the loss of her son Sam in a plane crash 14 months earlier. When pictures of herself, Sam and her husband, Jim (Edwards – “Thunderbirds”, TVs “ER”), are overnight replaced with a picture of just herself and Jim, and photo books of Sam are emptied, she accuses him of trying to erase Sam from her life. Her psyhotherapist, Jack Munce (Sinise – “Ransom”, “Forrest Gump”, “The Green Mile”) thinks she is delusional. There was no son, no plane crash. They explain that she had a miscarriage and subsequently invented a fictitious life with a nine-year old child.

Failing to understand exactly what is happening, she goes to the apartment of a local man, Ash (West – “Chicago”, “Mona Lisa Smile”, “28 Days”) whom she claims also lost a child on the same flight. He tells her she has got him mixed up with someone else and calls the police. After they take her away, something clicks, and he starts to recall deep rooted memories that he never knew he had. When he gets outside to tell Telly that he remembers something, the National Security Agency have turned up to question her. What does the NSA want with Telly? When Jim reports her missing to Detective Anne Pope (Woodard – “K-Pax”, “The Core”, “Primal Fear”, “Radio”), she asks the same question. Ash and Telly are running out of time to find out the truth about their forgotten lives – and they’re being watched all the time.

“The Forgotten” is an enthralling attempt to bring a story to the screen that seems so non-sensical, it can’t possibly work. And while there are pitfalls and holes along the way there is plenty to enjoy throughout.

The central performances make things believable. As you know I’m a big fan of Moore but solid turns from Dominic West, Alfre Woodard and Linus Roache keep things moving along well. I think the biggest crimes are the rather bit-part roles of Anthony Edwards and Gary Sinise – good actors with little to do.

Joseph Ruben is one of my favourite directors on the basis of the brilliant “The Stepfather” (ignoring the irksome “Money Train” and “Sleeping with the Enemy”). I personally think he does a damn good job here. The early minutes of the storyline seem to make sense but they look somewhat muddled as the story progresses. Best thing to do is ignore the plot holes and indulge yourself in the mystery.

And it’s a good mystery. A character’s memory is different to everyone elses – so just who can be right, and what can it all mean regardless? The last twenty minutes might make the same mistake that “Vanilla Sky” did, slipping in to a pseudo-science fiction style ending. But thanks to the story, the solid direction and good performances, it keeps you hanging in there.

3star