15 GIFs That Prove ‘Next’ Is Nicolas Cage’s Greatest Cinematic Triumph
Nicolas Cage makes a lot of movies. His IMDb page lists 15 roles since 2011, with another 10 more in various stages of production and development for the rest of 2015 and 2016. He’s got to pay for those dinosaur bones, haunted houses, and giant pyramid tombstones in New Orleans somehow.
With so much new Cage constantly flooding the market, it can be tough to keep up with all of it, even for a die-hard Cage-iac like myself. That’s why, until earlier this week, I had never seen Cage’s 2007 film Next.
Reader, every minute of the last eight years I spent not watching Next was a colossal waste of time.
This is a magnificent work of gonzo cinema; goofy and silly, illogical and insane. It is about Cris Johnson (Cage), a Las Vegas magician with the weirdest haircut in human history, who just so happens to have the gift of second sight — he can see exactly two minutes into the future.
Cris is recruited by the FBI to help them find a stolen nuclear bomb. Since he can only see two minutes into the future, it seems like Cris’ usefulness would be limited. (“It’s two miles away! And it’ll take us 40 minutes in L.A. traffic to get there. So we’re basically dead.”) Nonetheless, FBI Agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) insists Cris is the man for the job, and stops actively looking for the bomb so she can chase Nicolas Cage around the country instead. Your tax dollars at work!
Cris is also wanted by Las Vegas police, because he’s been using his psychic powers to cheat at blackjack. Luckily he can use those same mental abilities (and quick changes of clothes) to stay ahead of his pursuers.
After he ditches the cops, Cris winds up in a diner, where he drinks a martini. Because that’s what people drink in diners. Martinis.
Meanwhile, a beautiful woman named Liz (Jessica Biel) enters. Cris is instantly smitten. It’s love at first intensely awkward stare.
Cris keeps trying to figure out how to approach this glamorous vixen. He imagines one possible future where he tries a smooth pickup line; when it backfires, the scene rewinds and he picks another tactic. It’s like Nicolas Cage’s Groundhog Day and it is as fantastic as it sounds.
While Cris is divining the future, Liz’s boyfriend Kendall (!!!) walks in. They get into a fight, and Cris comes to Liz’s rescue. Again, Cris keeps trying out different scenarios to win his maiden’s heart, one of which involves intuiting Kendall’s every punch before it’s thrown:
He quickly realizes the only way to woo Liz is to let Kendall beat the crap out of him, which results in some hard-earned sympathy (and one of the weirdest faces Nic Cage has ever made onscreen):
It’s worth noting that Nicolas Cage was 43 in 2007; Jessica Biel was 25. Their romance is exactly as awkward and forced as you expect it would be. And the movie has love scenes! (I spared you the GIFs of those.)
For reasons too dumb to explain, Liz takes Cris to a Native American reservation. When they arrive, he wins over the locals with some magic tricks (and a lot of vintage Nic Cage oddness):
“Wait, so now I have to take care of this lizard? This is supposed to be a gift? Screw you Nicolas Cage!” (Wasn’t this movie about Nicolas Cage using psychic powers to find a nuclear bomb? What happened to that?)
Worried they will exploit his gifts for evil, Cris refuses to help the FBI. Instead, he hides out in a remote cabin with Liz. Their lovemaking seems about as tender and romantic as a dental exam, but Cris’ short-range psychic abilities must make him a dynamo in the sack, because when Agent Ferris tracks down Liz and tries to convince her to help the FBI capture him, she betrays her country in order to help Cage to make a daring escape.
And that’s when Nicolas Cage gains the ability to dodge bullets:
And to duck falling trucks at just the right (and most awesome) moment:
Despite his bullet-time abilities, Cris gets taken into custody. There he’s subjected to terrible psychic torture. But then he escapes, once again using his mind powers to evade detection (and to use nightsticks as projectile weapons):
Eventually, Liz gets kidnapped by the same terrorists who have the nuclear bomb, so Cris relents and agrees to help the FBI. So they get to walk towards a helicopter all cool and stuff.
Why is Nicolas Cage swinging his arms like that? He looks like he has to go to the bathroom.
In the big climax, Cris’ abilities begin to manifest in ways that frankly don’t make any sense. Now he uses his second sight to divide himself into multiple Cages to explore all the different nooks and crannies of this shipping warehouse where the nuclear bomb is supposedly hidden.
You heard me: Multiple. Nicolas. Cages. MULTICAGE!
The Cage Army eventually tracks down the lead terrorist (Thomas Kretschmann) who’s got Liz held at gunpoint. Undeterred, Cris simultaneously explores each possible future where he gets shot until he finds the one where he doesn’t. (Maybe; I honestly don’t understand how this works.)
I won’t spoil how the movie ends, but it does involve Nicolas Cage and Jessica Biel getting back into bed one last time, because there is nothing more erotic than Nicolas Cage nuzzling a 25-year-old woman.
Reviews of Next were pretty brutal in 2007 (“Crummy!” — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times), though it did have a few defenders (including Grantland’s Wesley Morris, then at the Boston Globe, who called it a “watchably absurd popcorn flick.” I’d say that’s exactly right; by any objective measurement, Next is terrible. The story is laughable, the effects are like something out of a Syfy Original, Nicolas Cage spends way too much time walking around without a shirt, and Julianne Moore looks like she’s counting down the seconds until she can go back to her trailer. But it’s the fun kind of terrible. It’s Nicolas Cage dodging bullets and wearing fedoras and romancing a woman who could easily play his daughter. It’s glorious.
You might think I’ve spoiled the entire film with this description and these GIFs. Far from it; I shared less than half the Next GIFs I made, and I left plenty of stuff for you to discover (including the random cameo by a TV legend who gets to hug a topless Nicolas Cage). The only reason it’s not the craziest and most hilarious movie of Cage’s career is because everything Nic Cage makes is the craziest and most hilarious movie of his career. I recommend it become the next thing you watch on Netflix. Don’t make the same mistake I did and wait eight years to check it out. Life is too short, even for a psychic.