Sunday, April 12, 2009


Year: 2009
Director: Alex Proyas
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Lara Robinson

I pity Nicolas Cage. He's a great actor and an Oscar winner. But somehow he hasn't been able to pick standout roles to be in for a long time. Thing is, it's not that he can't play those roles well, it's just that the premise for his films aren't interesting enough, or the execution of his films were below par. I seriously can't remember the last time I enjoyed a Nicolas Cage film. Maybe Face/Off was the last one. Everything after that ranged between okay and bad.

Anyway, he's in this new film Knowing, a disaster film with some sci-fi thrown in. Cage plays John Koestler, a lecturer at MIT who is a single father to his son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury). 50 years ago, a time capsule filled with drawings of students of Caleb's school was buried in the grounds, and now it is finally brought out for Caleb and his schoolmates to inherit them. Caleb gets one which isn't a drawing, but a series of numbers.

John takes a look at it, and notices something strange. He sees the date of 9/11 and the number of casualties of the WTC attacks. After checking the rest of the numbers and referencing them through the internet, he realizes that they're all dates and information of global disasters for the past 50 years. There are three more dates of tragedies at the end which haven't occured, prompting John to investigate the source of the numbers and find out how to stop them. To that end he seeks out Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne), the woman whose mother wrote the numbers 50 years ago, and together they discover secrets about her mother's last days, while being watched over by mysterious men in the shadows.

Director Alex Proyas, who made visually stunning sci-fi films like Dark City and I, Robot, tries to make Knowing a mixture of sci-fi, drama and thrillers. In the thrill department, some spectacular destruction shown on screen will leave you in awe. Check out the awesome airplane crash, which is then followed by an even more awesome subway train crash.

While the subject of armageddon has always been fascinating, the attempt to marry this aspect with sci-fi (which I can't give away too much lest I spoil the story, all I can say is that it leans towards The Day The Earth Stood Still) doesn't quite work. The execution of this particular element wasn't logical, and it comes off as quite laughable when you get to the end. I can see how the plot makes it logical, but Proyas needs to root this in reality a bit more.

Cage plays his character as best he can, always being the hero against insurmountable odds. However this film just doesn't do justice to his talent. Cage needs better material to work with. Byrne does okay as Diana, but gets annoying towards the end. The child stars, Canterbury and Lara Robinson who plays the child version of Diana's mother Lucinda, and Diana's daughter Abby in present day, excel in their roles though.

To sum it up, Knowing falls below expectations. Go for it if you enjoy great visual effects and massive carnage, but don't expect any more than that. (3.5/5)

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