“Knowing” (2009) – 3/5 Stars


The problem with “Knowing” is that it goes too far. It’s a tough act to juggle so many overused story conventions such as decoding numbers, the apocalypse and the supernatural these days. Movies like “Knowing” have become almost a genre of their own thanks to Roland Emmerich and other disaster/end-of-the-world-predicting filmmakers. And with that comes expectations as well as a need for originality. What is supposed to set “Knowing” apart? Disaster shots? No; A protagonist trying to convince people he’s not crazy though he can see the future? No; Nicolas Cage? Ahaha.

“Knowing” tries a bit too hard to compensate for this lack of an original premise and the result is a plot riddled with holes. As talented as director Alex Proyas (“Dark City,” “I, Robot”) is with science fiction and blending sci-fi themes with commercially appealing techniques that please producers, he can only capture our attention for so long until we realize how disconnected and far-fetched all the story elements are.

I’ll give the film a bit of credit for trying to piece together a message about family and knowing that the end is inevitable and how we struggle to decide whether we believe the events of our lives our connected or completely random, but it gets lost in film’s lasting impression because of the absurdity of events. Cage plays an MIT astrophysics professor who discovers a list of numbers from the time capsule uncovered at his son’s school. He discovers the numbers are the dates, locations and body counts for every major disaster from 1959 – 2009 and that includes some that have yet to happen.

The glitch here is that there’s no actual justification for Cage to go running toward life- threatening disasters that he knows will happen. He is a single father with a young son who he promises (in sign language no less) that he will be with forever and ever. It’s convenient for him to chase these events because otherwise there’s barely any action or special effects, but it sets the film off on the wrong foot.

Conceived by an inexperienced Ryne Douglas Pearson who wrote the script in conjunction with “Boogeyman” writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White, I supposed I shouldn’t be shocked that the story plays out like M. Night Shyamalan meets “The Day After Tomorrow” meets “Indiana Jones 4.” It certainly keeps your interest but when it’s all done you realize they tried to make something work that didn’t quite make any sense. Most blatantly, “Knowing” leaves its audience imagining too many hypotheticals.

Proyas ultimately gives “Knowing” half its competency. He has envisioned some pretty cool action sequences and found some way of pulling something resembling a theme out of this story that tries to make something original out of a premise inherently unoriginal. Without him, this film would be in the Nic Cage scrapheap along with “Next” and “Bangkok Dangerous.”

3/5 Stars

Knowing (2009)
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Written by: Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne


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