beginning to seem like a long, long time ago, but once upon a time, Nicolas
Cage was known as an adventurous, consummate actor who would only spend his
time on intriguing roles in interesting, offbeat projects. Somewhere in the
90s he met Jerry Bruckheimer and started peppering in the occasional action
blockbuster like The Rock or Con Air – but you couldn’t really
blame the guy for taking an occasional easy payday between his more artistic
roles. However, as years passed the cheesy titles became more and more
prevalent, to the point that in the last several years his quirky work in
small, artistic films has all but disappeared. (Adaptation. in 2002
is probably the last Nicolas Cage film in which his acting was noticed at
apocalyptic thriller Knowing had the chance to be one of Cage’s
better sellout movies – and it is… for about half the screen time. It was
written and directed by Alex Proyas, the mind behind the cult-fave noir
fantasy Dark City with Rufus Sewell and Jennifer Connelly. It
has an intriguing premise; a time capsule buried for 50 years is opened and
reveals a paper that predicts every major catastrophe in that time.
Knowing also has two spectacular action scenes – involving a plane crash
and a subway derailment.
how did Knowing go so far off track? (Sorry… no pun intended.)
not sure, but walking out of the theater I couldn’t believe what a
ridiculous mess the film ended up being.
was particularly depressing, because it started off pretty well.
There is a short prologue in 1959, where a newly opened school decides to
bury a time capsule for future generations. Students in the class are told
to draw a picture of how they imagine the world will look in
fifty years. However,
instead of a drawing, one haunted-eyed little girl named Lucinda starts
scribbling off a long ongoing series of numbers that covers both sides of
forward to 2009 and the capsule is being opened by a new generation of
students. The list of numbers is given to Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), a
slightly sickly young boy whose father is an MIT Physics Professor named
John Koestler (played by Nicolas Cage) who has been way too overprotective
of his son since his wife was killed in a hotel fire a year before.
first Koestler – who is a no-nonsense scientist who believes nothing is
pre-ordained – is certain that the page of numbers are gibberish. However,
eventually he notices a pattern – the numbers list the dates of major
disasters, the number of fatalities and the longitude and latitude of where
they happened. He also realizes that there are three more dates left – all
of which are coming up soon.
a fascinating premise. Early scenes where Koestler tries futilely to change
the future disasters are also disturbing and involve the two shocking
special effects scenes I mentioned earlier.
However, this is where it all crashes and burns.
problem is, the more we get to know of the numbers and the mysterious men
lurking outside of Koestler’s home, the more preposterous the whole thing
becomes. After such an interesting and original start, the script
downshifts into a morass of sci-fi clichés. Eventually Knowing
resorts to recycling old ideas and plot points from such movies as Close
Encounters of the Third Kind, War of the Worlds, Signs and Contact.
By the end – an odd and under-explored utopian interlude in which two of our
main characters are allowed a new start on life – the audience wishes that
the movie as a whole could just start over. Only this time, hopefully it
will find an ending that is more worthy of its intriguing setup.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: March 20, 2009.