Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review: 'Knowing' (F)

By Chase Kahn

Even those on the lower-end of the gene pool looking for a dumb Nic Cage detour are in for a rude awakening. Alex Proyas' Knowing is too crazy, spacey and obsessive in its science for these people's receptors. Unfortunately, it's also utterly ridiculous and too unintentionally comedic for anyone else's -- so I'm not really sure who the film was targeting -- Roger Ebert, maybe?

All of the various trailers and promotions have promised that Knowing is about pre-determination based on a series of numbers written by a creepy girl in 1959 with deep black eyes to match her charcoal hair. The numbers predict various disasters, complete with a death toll, coordinates, and dates.

It's this portion of the film (the promised, expected version) that works okay -- mainly because director Alex Proyas, if nothing else, shows that he knows how to stage and film a badass airplane crash. Or a subway derailment if that's more your thing. Even though the first half is mildly entertaining, it's also severely hindered by a quadruple-attack of screenwriters and Nicolas Cage and his son, Caleb (played by Chandler Canterbury).

Full of equal parts odd, shockingly inauthentic human behavior and drippy, cornball schmaltz, it's clear what we're in for with Knowing -- it's got cool effects, an okay but conventional premise, bad acting, etc. Whatever, it's all good for a two-hour pentaly kill, right?

That was the case, until the final inexcusable turn of events which is preceded by Cage discovering that the final set of numbers could spell the apocalypse for his world and ours. Throughout, it feels like nothing less than the end of humanity as we know it.

The final scenes -- at their most fundamental level -- consist of filming a played-out, worn-down, science-fiction cliche and treating it like the second-coming of Stanley Kubrick's "Star Child". Not to mention the fact that Cage and his son have a complex sign-language exchange that illicits and deserves laughs. At the conclusion, one has to wonder whether Proyas even intended to film any of this aside from his already talked-about plane crash. Even his use of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 feels trite, a year too late.

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