I saw a few movies on my plane trips back and forth to Europe, most of them not that great, but better than staring at the back of the seat in front of me for 7-8 hours. There was one standout in the mix though, but it’s a character and not the movie as a whole that rises above the rest.

Callie FerrisJulianne Moore’s character of FBI Agent Callie Ferris in the movie Next also starring Nicolas Cage and Jessica Biel is this week’s Danger Gal Friday. The premise of the movie is interesting: Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) can see two minutes into his own future. The FBI want his help any way they can get it to stop a nuclear bomb. Johnson is also after finding his dream woman Liz Cooper, the only events for which he’s ever seen more than two minutes into the future concern her.

The story is based on Philip K. Dick’s The Golden Man, probably the reason I enjoyed the premise. Like many of Dick’s stories though, the Hollywood version doesn’t resemble the original in much more than premise. This is also true of Next. While Cage stood out in his nifty quirkiness as usual, I was interested to know more backstory about Agent Ferris, Moore’s character, and less about Liz, Biel’s character. While Biel brought down the hysteria quotient familiar in many damsel characters, I just can’t see Biel in a role as someone needing to be rescued. She’s much more compelling as the rescuer.

So Moore’s character was the big standout for me in this movie. Ferris is the agent in charge of the operation to track down the bomb, she’s abrasive and speaks her mind yet no one denigrates her with feminine slurs so often used when a woman behaves that way. Instead, she says “Jump!” and all the other FBI agents (all male if I remember correctly) ask “How high?”

The Golden ManMoreover, Ferris is comfortable being in charge. I have to wonder if this character was originally written as male because refreshingly absent is all the cliched interpersonal conflicts used in movies when a woman is in charge. She’s also an expert shot and saves Cris Johnson’s life.

The Movie Critic Next Door sums up Moore’s character nicely:

Julianne Moore, though, is capable of being a very scary lady. She was certainly an excellent fanatic in Children of Men, and here she actually steps it up a notch. I don’t know her exact title, but she’s important. A few words into her cell, and teams are shutting down all communications within a two mile radius. A wave of her hand, and suddenly every lounger in sight is an agent hurrying over to her for instructions. It makes me wonder how many of those road workers that you see standing around are actually waiting for a signal from Julianne.

Though no one else really seems to belive her when she says what Cris can do, apparently even her boss is too afraid to say no to her, because she gets her way. With his (reluctant) help, she knows she can find that bomb before it goes off.

I hope Moore gets to show off her scary side more often.



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