Knowing

"Excellent"

Knowing Review


In the list of filmmakers packed with wasted potential, Alex Proyas has to be near the top. While Dark City sparkled with a kind of surreal sci-fi magic, his other efforts -- including the gloppy Will Smith epic I, Robot -- have felt strained and unrewarding. So when you see his name attached to the lasted Nicolas Cage effort (said actor himself a perfect example of the law of continued diminishing returns), one fears a flop coming on. But as luck would have it, Knowing is actually very good. It proves that Proyas is perhaps one mainstream mega-hit away from finally fulfilling his so far unrealized possibilities.

Fifty years ago, the students of a small Massachusetts school buried a time capsule filled with their drawings of the future. In 2009, it's opened, and what's inside will change the fate of MIT Professor John Koestler (Cage), his son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), and the actual world as we know it. Seems the boy gets a weird list of numbers, scribbled by a troubled child five decades ago. Now, Koestler sees a pattern in the randomness -- they appear to be predicting cataclysmic events, providing the date and the actual number of casualties. Luckily, most of the tragedies have already occurred. Unfortunately, there are three remaining. With the help of Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne) and her daughter Abby (Lara Robinson), our hero will try to understand the omens before life as we "know" it no longer exists.

Knowing, while not without its faults, is a fascinating and brave entertainment. You haven't seen doom and gloom like this since Michael Tolkin delivered the actual Rapture. Proyas reconnects with his muse in a way that's quite wonderful throughout. The three main set-pieces -- a horrific plane crash, an equally brutal subway smash-up, and the frightening finale -- are all so skillfully rendered, so startling in their cinematic audacity that it's hard to imagine a studio giving them the greenlight. With an equally strong sonic backdrop to add to the chaos, these scenes play like newsreel footage filled out with actual visions of real-life death and destruction. For these moments alone, Knowing is worth your time.

Even Cage can't countermand Proyas' ability behind the lens. While much better here than in other recent paycheck parts (Bangkok Dangerous, Next), there are times when he feels out of sync with the rest of the movie. He's even upstaged by child actor Canterbury some of the time. But as the story moves along, as his character learns more and more about the fateful list, Cage comes around. He seems more comfortable in the reactive role, not having to put on the faux-heroics that the early parts of the film require. Proyas even helps out by keeping the cast small and insular.

Of course, there's a caveat. You can't make far-thinking, big-budget speculative spectacle without it. During the last 15 minutes, Knowing takes a turn so unique, so baffling in its believability yet obvious in its setup that you either go with it, or you don't. Your reaction to this plot point will be the make-or-break moment for you and this film. Buy it, and you're in for something wholly satisfying and special. Don't and you'll be twiddling your thumbs in Spielberg/War of the Worlds disbelief. Given all that's come before -- and it's some amazing moviemaking stuff -- it's a big risk for Proyas and his picture. Indeed, if the film's a hit, it will be the water cooler moment for the next few weeks.

Frankly, all of Knowing feels daring and deliberate, as if Proyas wanted to purposely undermine the expectations of the standard popcorn pandering. That it succeeds so well shows what this unsung artform hero is really made of.

Aka Know1ng.

He also knows what you did last summer.



Knowing

Facts and Figures

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th March 2009

Box Office USA: $79.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $155.4M

Budget: $50M

Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

Production compaines: Summit Entertainment, Escape Artists, Mystery Clock Cinema, Goldcrest Pictures, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment, Wintergreen Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 59 Rotten: 119

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Jason Blumenthal, ,

Starring: as John Koestler, as Diana Wayland, as Caleb Koestler, as Phil Bergman, Nadia Townsend as Grace Koestler, D.G. Maloney as The Stranger, as Lucinda Embry / Abby Wayland, Alan Hopgood as Rev. Koestler, Adrienne Pickering as Allison, Joshua Long as Younger Caleb, Alethea McGrath as Miss Taylor (2009), Danielle Carter as Miss Taylor (1959), Tamara Donnellan as Lucinda's Mother, Travis Waite as Lucinda's Father

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.