26 April 2009


starring Nicolas Cage,
Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne
written by Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
directed by Alex Proyas
original release date: 20 March 2009
Summit Entertainment, 121 mins.

There's Frakking Worse Things

Nic Cage; musings about aliens; negative word-of-mouth; the crappy aftertaste of NEXT lingering - I wasn't all that gun-ho about seeing KNOWING. But hey, my World Religions professor said we'd get 10 extra credit points if we write a little something about it because it discusses different viewpoints of the creation of earth. Plus, $30 Marcus theater gift card equals

And wouldn't you know it, KNOWING's actually pretty good. It's a gazillion times better than NEXT (though that's not hard to accomplish), and I actually enjoyed myself the entire time. Go figure. In fact, I might actually recommend you check out KNOWING at some point, though I'd caution you wait for DVD (although there is one sequence which I think is profoundly impactful on the big-screen). Actually, in retrospect, I think the only thing wrong with KNOWING would be Nic Cage himself. More on that later...

In 1959, a strange girl at an elementary school goes bonkers and writes a zillion numbers in seemingly random orders on the front and back sides of a piece of paper. This paper is then put into a time capsule to be opened in 50 years time. Fast forward to 2009, when John Koestler (Cage)'s son Caleb (Canterbury) goes to the same school and witness the opening of said capsule. Caleb, through some twist of 'fate', gets a hold of this paper with all the numbers, and John grows a particular interest in it. In fact, he becomes obsessed; and by morning, he's related the numbers to catastrophes in the past; but the bad news is, there's still two dates that have yet to come to pass, and judging by the paper, they're happening soon. John resides himself to do anything in his power to stop the events from happening, but perhaps he can't change what is written, perhaps destiny can't be prevented...
KNOWING actually boasts a cool, engrossing story. Watching Cage putting the pieces together, and subsequently trying to avert the ones he can control is quite fun. Although, granted, I couldn't help but groan as one of the events from the piece of paper becomes connected to 9/11/01; but luckily the concept is intriguing enough to play along with the script. Additionally, there's another element added to the film which is perhaps more creepy than any horror or thriller films of the year yet - these strange, tall, pale men in trench-coats that have grown a particular liking to Caleb. It's freaky, and coupled with the haunting, eerie music from Tyler Bates (WATCHMEN) which is damn good enough that I'm thinking about picking it up, KNOWING works both as a thriller and horror film. Sorta.
For anyone who has a problem with Keanu Reeves' "acting" ability (as evident by nearly 90% of all DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and MATRIX reviews), I present to you Nic Cage. Compared to our anchoring actor, Reeves can invoke emotion and inflection into his lines like nobodies business. Cage, to his credit, goes bye-bye with the ridiculous DA VINCI CODE-inspired hairdo of NEXT in favor of a more GHOST RIDER look [I can't believe I'm discussing hair styles in a bloody movie review]. Maybe I'm the only one, but I think it's time to say goodbye to the Cage. His character, for the most part, is interesting enough for us to give a damn about his predicament, but hell, I was far more interested in his son and Diana, a strange woman with a connection to the little girl who jotted down the numbers. Everyone's given equal screentime, so I guess it's all fair game.

[Spoiler follows]And yes, the rumors are true - KNOWING takes the INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL route and introduces aliens into the mix [
ahem, excuse me Mr. Lucas, they were "inter-dimensional beings", not aliens]. And somehow they managed to come outta left field more so than INDY 4 did. Anyhow, it's a interesting plot twist, I'll give 'em that. I was curious as to what purpose these tall, trench-coat wearing scary guys were to serve to the story, and I guess this is about as satisfying an answer as any. Plus, when they take off their human skin to reveal their actual physical appearance - that was sorta cool. And one of the final shots of several spaceships leaving earth's orbit [reminded me of the "Arks" in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL re-imagining] is just beautiful to look at. In fact, that sorta leads me to my next point...

If for no other reason, give KNOWING a try for its visual effects, which are spectacular. It may have a messy plot that will leave you scratching your head in bewilderment, and 'oh-my-god-are-they-serious?' performances, but the effects are wonderful. One such example I wish to point out is the much talked about airplane sequence, in which our protagonist just happens to be at the exact location of a major catastrophe in the making: an airplane rips into a highway and crashes into the ground in an giant explosion, and in a supposedly single shot, Nic Cage runs to the wreckage to...help or something. It's quite impressive, and this entire segment alone is worth the price of admission.

In a nutshell, KNOWING is actually worth your time. It's a fun thriller with some pretty nifty action sequences, a strange and slightly daring finale, and successfully grabs your interest as John runs against time to stop whatever's coming. When you're not smirking at the absurdity of some of the situations and plot points and you just roll with it, it's friggin' awesome. As the newly appointed rating system says, there's a lot frakking worse things out there.

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