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Knowing – nice concept / bad formation

Submitted by on March 23, 2009 – 1:15 am6 Comments

knowingI am sitting here, trying to figure out the antonym for the word “awe”. For that is what I am feeling right now. Knowing stars and is directed by Alex Proyas (responsible for Dark City).

There are many of us who like Nicolas Cage and there are many who think he’s a mumbling idiot. I however am not one of those “righties” or “lefties”. I am very Liberal Democrat about the whole situation and decidedly sit straight in the middle. Call it apathy if you will, but for every Snake Eyes (in my opinion) there is a hiding around the corner.

The true question is: if you have a lead actor who is capable of producing quite excellent performances (such as in The Weather Man) and a director who was behind one of the biggest underrated movies of all time (Dark City), then surely you will have a masterpiece that dwarfs all others! Sadly, it seems…not!


A teacher opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son’s elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions — some that have already occurred and others that are about to — that lead him to believe his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold.


We are asked quite mysteriously on the poster, “What happens when the numbers run out” and my immediate reaction was to answer “life returns as normal”. Surely they can’t be making a film about returning to normality. Surely they wouldn’t dare. Hollywood doesn’t do that! It only manages to do three things by the end of their films (I call them the Hollywood Clichés):

  1. Make everything happily ever after
  2. Explain nothing at all and cut off someone mid-sentence
  3. Kill everyone.

This may sound a little too much of a general statement considering the scope of Hollywood productions but the simple fact is very few are bold enough break this mould. To be fair, number 2 has only come to light (in my experience) from pioneers such as Alfred Hitchcock who will insist on doing their own thing regardless of what everyone else wants!

So a scary girl named Lucinda writes a bunch of random numbers and fifty years later those numbers mean something. You watch the first 30 minutes and merely think that Nicolas Cage (playing a father and a clever scientist) is merely seeing things that aren’t really there. It feels very much like “The Number 23” all over again. In fact Cage, in this film manages to play it less straight than Jim Carrey (the lead in The Number 23) and hams it up nicely for the big screen.

Cage’s substandard performance is the first disappointment of this film. It looks as if he doesn’t really care about getting into the role at all and instead of convincing the audience he is a grieving widower, merely shows the audience that he could out-drink them!

Cage is supported by a few actors who seem incapable of doing the very thing that they claim they can do! Let me tell you this one time and one time only: actors should be able to act! The clue is in the job title! It is more important that in a mysterious plot driven film that all actors can convince us…er….convincingly, that they are who they say they are! Is it too much to ask that a casting director chooses a child actor based upon his performance? It seems that way!

You may be thinking then that I despised Knowing. In fact at about the 50 minute mark I was getting quite into it! Unfortunately soon after then I had looked at my watch and had noticed that I was nowhere near the end. I sighed and continued on for another hour, hoping that they’d stop before the film became too silly. Sadly it did become very silly and because of its need to do one of the Hollywood Clichés before you leave the cinema, it had to continue.

I am unsure as to why M Night Shyamalan was not considered for directing (and screenplay adjustment) as I feel that this is where he shines above others. It was a good tale told with a little sloppiness and far too large a to be really entertaining. He certainly could have upped the suspense and mystery in this film as it was lacking somewhat.

One thing that deserves congratulations though is the completely unglamorous way that people died in the film. There was no build up, no warning and it is very powerful because of it. In fact, due to this unabashed way of showing death and so flippantly it may be worth the price of the ticket alone. Perhaps not. After all can you really love a film with this many flaws? Well yes…. of course you can. Okay so it’s far too long, the acting is not so great, the directing could have done with more direction, the screenplay was unpolished, the dialogue was wooden, the exposition was sloppily portrayed but damn…the disasters were good. Okay so perhaps that is far too many flaws to love. However you have to respect Alex Proyas for at least not making a dramatic dance and pirouette out of every death scene.

After about two hours of watching Knowing, you sit there hoping for a conclusion and in a way that reminds you very much of The Return of The King, you wonder why it has not ended yet. When you think it should end, it merely continues on to another end….and another one. It is as if Proyas wanted to decide on the best ending by filming all of them, but instead of deciding, merely threw every one in for good measure


Believe it or not, I looked forward to Knowing. I didn’t hate it that much and I liked the concept. However this is a good example of how more time in an editing suite can save a film. Knowing should be good. It should be VERY good and instead manages a sub-mediocre score due to its oh-so-many flaws.

I had expected more from Nicolas Cage and Alex Proyas. I had expected suspense, powerful acting and a surprise in the end. I was disappointed on all counts!

Rating: 2 out of 5

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