Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Next

"Here is the thing about the future, every time you look at, it changes—because you looked at it, and that changes everything else."

Cool flick: Next. Nick Cage, Jessica Biel and Julianne Moore. Even Lee Tamahori couldn't screw it up.

IMDb synopsis: Las Vegas showroom magician Cris Johnson has a secret which torments him: he can see a few minutes into the future. Sick of the examinations he underwent as a child and the interest of the government and medical establishment in his power, he lies low under an assumed name in Vegas, performing cheap tricks and living off small-time gambling "winnings." But when a terrorist group threatens to detonate a nuclear device in Los Angeles, government agent Callie Ferris must use all her wiles to capture Cris and convince him to help her stop the cataclysm.

Behind the bland synopsis hide quite a few twists and thought. I certainly didn't see the thing at the end coming; which is always a nice surprise. But it made sense, despite the fact that I am not sure how one little but critical item fit in there. Maybe I'll watch the important bits again, just to figure out if it hangs together—after all, everything else does. Reminds me, in more ways than one, of Deja Vu. No surprises there. 'Time' and all that.

The whole issue is fascinating, to me at least. I mean, suppose we could foresee the future and what would happen as a result of us doing this or that thing. Well, actually we can and do all the time. Our brains are, after all, future-projectors. That's what 'intelligence' is all about. Never mind that sometimes, when considering people's truly dismal stupid behavior, you'd doubt it; but all flippancy aside, this is what we do: project into the future and act such as to maximize 'desired' outcomes; whatever it happens to be we desire. Make what is and what should be become the same.

But that's not something 'psychic', like what the protagonist from Next is able to do. On the other hand, let's just suppose—and Next is all about 'let's suppose' or 'what if', and it propounds, inter alia, a theory about 'magicians' I long ago propounded myself, namely that some of them are actually for real, and merely pretend not to be: a kind of deceptive triple-cross—that one could 'foresee' in the predictable and systematic kind of way Cris Johnson does.

Isn't there an inherent paradox here; yet one that could be resolved by the simple expedient of understanding 'forseeing'—in the 'oracular', mystical sense, if you will—as merely an ability to see, in an intuitive way, the many paths of possibility that lie ahead for any given action? Of course, one would assume that knowledge other than that readily accessible and explainable is also involved. Yet do we truly know all the modes in which we acquire 'knowledge' about the context we find ourselves in?

Well, do we?

I certainly wouldn't presume to give a definite answer to that.

Anyway, treat yourselves to Next. There's a homage to Clockwork Orange, too!


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