Knowing — Review #JPMN

This sci-fi disaster film was released in
March of 2009 where it impressively earned back over three times its $50 million dollar
budget. Beginning as an intriguing mystery with a tinge of horror to it, Direct Alex
Proyas shares the fascinating story of man who comes into possession of a list of dates;
all prophesizing major disasters, and eventually, the end of all life itself. Nicolas Cage stars
as a widowed astrophysics professor at MIT, and single father: who discovers this mysterious
disaster calendar after his son retrieves it via a 50-year-old time capsule at his elementary
school. The preliminary disasters that build up the movie’s brazen conclusion are grippingly
shot, albeit with some less-than-stellar visual effects: a plane crash sequence near a highway
traffic accident is convincingly shot in a single, long take, with Cage running from
one burning victim to the next, attempting to save lives from a disaster he knew would
happen. Later, a New York subway car becomes derailed, killing
dozens, in a furious and exciting sequence that plays out like the gratuitous opening
to a “Final Destination” picture. Marco Beltrami’s haunting score helps nerves on edge, but this
121 minute film is hardly on the same scale as other disaster pictures, keeping this focused
on Cage’s family and friends: rarely widening out to show the larger portrait of a doomed
mankind. The overall story suffers as a result, but the trade-off results in a deeper emotional
impact, vis a vis, the central characters. As the mature, smart-alec son of Cage, Chandler
Canterbury does a terrific job with a complicated role… going toe to toe with Academy Award
winning adult counterpart, and delivering some of the creepier moments in the script
that can feel particularly unnerving. Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson, and Ben Mendelsohn round
out the small cast, but I can’t say I was particularly impressed with their unmemorable
performances. Cage is notorious for his unique project-choices, and hammy acting: but fortunately,
both serve him well here: this is an extremely original and engaging movie – where his scenery-chewing
line delivery feels right at home. With plot holes abound, and numerous story threads left
largely unanswered, the ending to this picture will surprise many, frustrate others, and
delight the rest. Built on the premise of a list of arbitrarily selected numbers, the
greater message here reflects the title: and whether or not we have a responsibility to
save lives we know to be in danger. A reflection on the human condition in the final hours
of existence, the final scenes of this movie are poignant, and relatable. Bouncing from
disaster-epic to horror mystery, back to a sci-fi think-piece, this movie rarely finds
sturdy footing, resulting in an entertaining, and enjoyable experience, but ultimately,
the scattershot deliver is unevenly paced. Worth re-watching only after you’ve forgotten
the uniquely different final act, “Knowing”, “Refreshing concept, if intermittently dramatic.”
Now lets read some of your reviews from the YouTube comments. A FIVE and a SEVEN on the Rate-o-matic. Your
opinions were extremely mixed for “Knowing”, some thought Cage was at the top of his game,
others moaned over his famously cheesy performance – and while many liked the concept, you hated
the execution, especially the ending. In a rare occurrence, I scored the movie two points
higher: the twist ending is an original one, and while I understand why many didn’t care
for it, I appreciated this brave decision, and was entertained by the exciting events
leading up to it. Despite some glaring faults, I thought this was a COOL film.

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