Review by Paul Stathakis | May 11, 2009

‘I know what you wrote 50 summers ago’

I have no prob­lem sit­ting through dis­as­ter movies. There have been many:  “Vol­cano” (1997), “Armagge­don” (1998), “Deep Impact” (1998), “The Day After Tomor­row” (2004), and more recent­ly, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (2008).  But what I have trou­bles deal­ing with is when the film becomes less enter­tain­ing and more upset­ting, when it relies exclu­sive­ly on graph­ic scenes to shock instead of sur­pris­ing view­ers with a clever idea. And “Know­ing” is entire­ly com­posed of har­row­ing scenes: a plane crash that looks real with peo­ple then emerg­ing from the crash, scream­ing for help while on fire or a scene involv­ing a sub­way acci­dent and peo­ple being crushed flat. Oh, and not to men­tion, a moment where cari­bous are run­ning through fiery forests…on fire. Add to these scenes a very loud sound­track of music and shrieks and you get the full pic­ture. “Know­ing” is an assault on the human brain and ears.

Nico­las Cage stars as John Koestler, a sci­ence pro­fes­sor and sin­gle father with a bad drink­ing prob­lem. Is he drink­ing to for­get some­thing buried deep in his past or does he suf­fer from a deep addic­tion to alcohol?

His son is Caleb (Chan­dler Can­ter­bury), a rather curi­ous ele­men­tary stu­dent. His school is hold­ing a spe­cial day and stu­dents are excit­ed. After a lengthy 50-year span, a teacher will have the hon­or of open­ing a time cap­sule that has been dug up at the ele­men­tary school. Scat­tered amongst stu­dents’ draw­ings, the cap­sule con­tains some chill­ing pre­dic­tions. Caleb returns home with a sheet filled with num­bers. “Maybe it means some­thing”, won­ders Caleb but his dad isn’t at all con­vinced until he lat­er gives it a sec­ond clos­er look and dis­cov­ers a har­row­ing pat­tern that can spell doom. What does the let­ter reveal? Many will be able to deduce the mys­tery sim­ply by watch­ing the trail­er. But for those who are not aware, I will not reveal a thing.

What fol­lows is an hour and a half of car chas­es, mys­te­ri­ous char­ac­ters, a ton of denials from sub-char­ac­ters, and the emer­gence of a charm­ing female side­kick, Rose (Diana Way­land) and her daugh­ter, Abby (Lara Robin­son). The film, direct­ed by Alex Proyas, does not touch on the orig­i­nal­i­ty of his pre­vi­ous endeav­ors, which include “The Crow” (1994) and “Dark­C­i­ty” (1998). Instead, view­ers are sub­ject­ed to a sci­ence-fic­tion adven­ture that asks ques­tions but doesn’t both­er pro­vid­ing any answers. Aside from the sol­id spe­cial effects work, the film is exag­ger­at­ing­ly loud and graph­ic and it tries to tidy things with a shock­ing Shya­malanesque end­ing that will ulti­mate­ly leave many view­ers unsat­is­fied. The cast mem­bers deliv­er decent per­for­mances and, for the most part, they are what keep the film togeth­er. Cage is a ver­sa­tile actor and he’s come a long way since “Vampire’s Kiss” (1988) but the sto­ry over­shad­ows his per­for­mance and the rest of the cast. As a result, the film fails to spark any inter­est because of illog­i­cal plot holes and an absurd finale. Not worth knowing.


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