1½ stars (out of four)
In "Next," the most dunderheaded film ever made from a Philip K. Dick story, Nicolas Cage plays a telepathic fellow who can see two minutes into the future. This quirk allows him to dodge sniper bullets or simply predict the next line of inane dialogue from a TV show. Say, there's an idea: For the DVD edition of "Next" Cage can provide a commentary track that begins two minutes before the film itself.
Dick's feverish, paranoid fiction has led on film to "Blade Runner," "Total Recall," "Minority Report" and more recently "A Scanner Darkly." Directed tonelessly and without visual distinction by Lee Tamahori, "Next" is a piker compared with any of those pictures. Throughout Cage and co-star Julianne Moore, who plays an FBI agent with exactly one menacing line reading in her, struggle for engagement. Jessica Biel, as Cage's true luv, is the only one who acts like she wants to be there, and what does she get for her trouble? She gets explosives strapped to her body atop a downtown Los Angeles parking garage.
In the original 1954 Dick story "The Golden Man," the man with the "pre-cog" gift is one of a post-atomic radioactive mutant species. "Next's" screenwriters ditch the mutant angle and reconceive the protagonist as a Vegas magician. Meantime, a multinational cadre of terrorists has smuggled a large Russian WMD into Southern California. The feds hope the magic man can find that bomb.
In the silliest visual conceit, Cage's character is aboard a cargo ship overrun by the terrorists and suddenly he's everywhere at once, starring in a doomsday remake of "Multiplicity."
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. In general release. MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, and some language.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times