Nicolas Cage is back, initially, in his Honeymoon In Vegas territory in Next, based on Philip K. Dick's story "The Golden Man."
Cage (again a producer here), to his credit, doesn't seem like he's slumming as much here as he did in the cheesily overblown Ghost Rider, which scored mainly from its soundtrack. The effect of Lee Tamahori's picture, sadly, may be the same for audiences looking for a cunning actioner.
Cage is Vegas showroom magician Cris Johnson has a knack for what's going to happen to him two minutes in advance. And, that gift has plagued him though (through his narration) he seems content performing tricks under the stage name of Frank Cadillac. Cris gets by on his sleight-of-hand wiles and small-time "winnings" especially around blackjack tables.
The exposition isn't clearly that important in the script based on a screen story by Gary Goldman, as Next becomes more fleet of foot as Cris leaves Las Vegas. That's after some interesting scenes with the introduction of Cris's gift and scenes with the rarely seen Peter Falk and a shooting inside the gaming area.
Much of the proceedings happens in Flagstaff, Arizona as Cris becomes more enamored by Liz, played by the voluptuous Jessica Biel (The Illusionist and the upcoming Home of the Brave). With Liz, who works with kids on a reservation that is federally funded, Cris can see beyond that two-minute window that he has for himself.
It works early on when he's seen enjoying a martini at 8:09 am, the time she always comes into the diner. Knowing the future makes for some amusing small talk, in similar ways as Cage came into interest with Eva Mendes's reporter in Ghost Rider.
A more dire situation develops as a group (probably from Russia) smugles nuclear munitions into the L.A. area and Julianne Moore's federal agent Calle Ferris must use smarts, a la Clarice Starling in Hannibal to defuse a potential catastrophic act.
So, Tamahori, having done 007 in Die Another Day, handles the large set pieces with relative ease, with some nods to The Matrix and Bad Boys. All within Cris's mindset after Liz doesn't see him to be as delusional as he first appears to be.
Without divulging the major turn of events, there's a cinematic trick that might hit one like a strong martini in the morning that seems more off-putting than awe-inspiring. An explosive, teasing cousing of Deja Vu is a film that has Cage coiffed somewhat like Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code. If there's a vision of love at the end of this popcorn entertainment, Next rolls snake eyes in getting there.