***1/2 (out of 5)
March 20, 2009
Nicolas Cage as JOHN KOESTLER
Chandler Canterbury as CALEB KOESTLER
Rose Byrne as DIANA WAYLAND
D.G. Maloney as THE STRANGER
Lara Robinson as LUCINDA EMBRY/ABBY WAYLAND
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Directed by: Alex Proyas
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Even though he has an Oscar sitting on his mantelpiece at home, Nicolas Cage has become a bit of a joke among film critics and movie bloggers. And it makes sense, considering that the guy is due for a terrible movie at least once or twice a year… and he’s not looking to win any Oscars in the near future. Let’s face it, Nicolas Cage has earned this reputation in the honest fashion.
So, a spooky Nicolas Cage film released in March is a bad sign. But like the new “Terminator” movie coming out this summer, which carried a stench as soon as McG’s name was attached but gained some street cred when Christian Bale came aboard, “Knowing” gained some respect – at least from me – with Alex Proyas in the director’s chair.
I have enjoyed all of Proyas’ movies – even “I, Robot.” Despite the Nicolas Cage curse, I was still eager to see the film.
The movie tells the story of an MIT professor named John Koestler (Cage) who has a son named Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) whose class opens a time capsule from 1959. In it, they find a list of numbers written by one of the students 50 years ago. John examines the numbers one night to discover that they predict with alarming accuracy the date, location and body count of every major disaster over the past five decades. As John delves deeper into the complex number predictions, he learns a grim fate about himself, his son and the rest of humanity.
“Knowing” is a complex movie that is waaaaay out there. On the surface, it seems very simple. However, there are deeper things happening in it. Anyone who has studied the paranormal and religion will see the real concepts found in the books of Ezekiel and Revelations. Sure, these ideas are pretty far on the fringe, but in my opinion, they make for some pretty exciting movie watching.
Like Proyas’ other films, “Knowing” is very dark and dreary, but it holds with it a solid structure and some incredible imagery. We’ve seen some of it before, but he manages to give us a terrifying look at real disaster situations on screen. And while the “Whispering Strangers” that visit Caleb and another girl look like they might be a German rock band, they still are creepy as hell.
The only stumbling block that Proyas hit at several points in the film was to let things breathe too much. A few nice slow-motion shots are fine, but he really stretched them in this movie. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that M. Night Shyamalan had done a guest directing spot in this picture.
However, the real weak link in this movie is Nicolas Cage himself. He’s just down to collecting a paycheck nowadays, and the lead of John Koestler could have been played by almost anyone else. In fact, there are at least three or four moments in the film that Cage overacts so much that I found him laughable and actually embarrassing.
Still, I didn’t let Cage’s performance ruin the film for me. I was very curious to see how far the movie would go in the context it created, and I wasn’t a bit disappointed with the ending of the movie. Some people will look at this film as a missed opportunity, especially when they get to the end. However, as a fluffy piece of escapist science fiction, this movie had me sucked in the entire time.