Toon’s Review: Knowing – 7/10

A through and through solid film that shocks, awes and then some, it’s an intelligent and thought provoking twist on a tired apocalyptic genre where Proyas’ skills as a director shine through in a very engaging experience. However, personal derivations of the very peculiar ending and lack of emotional credibility pull this back from being a great movie.


I am still not sure what I would rate this movie out of my usual ten point scale; however what I am certain of is how good this movie felt. Watching ‘Knowing’ was simply a superb experience, it was genuinely enticing, intriguing, thrilling and thoroughly ponderous at just the right times. Alex Proyas, responsible for directing the cult hit ‘Dark City’ as well as the futuristic thriller ‘I, Robot’, was on his finest form here delivering an exciting thriller that will honestly have you at the edge of your seat with your spine tingling in curiosity and uneasiness. Simply a very well made film.

Nicholas Cage plays a very deep character; an MIT Professor entangled with thoughts of his family and the determinsim of the universe.

Nicholas Cage plays a very deep character; an MIT Professor entangled with thoughts of his family and the order of the universe.

‘Knowing’ follows a somewhat classic end of the world plot, which contains the typical “prophecy” sort of material falling in to the hands of an unassuming intelligent man. I do not wish to reveal much because what makes the film feel so brilliant is the sense of discovery that you are engaged in throughout along with the characters. The prophecy in this case is a piece of parchment filled with numbers written in the 1950’s by a very disturbed young girl named Lucinda Embry who was haunted by unbeknownst whispers in her head. The parchment, along with many other drawings from children in her school was locked away in a time capsule. Opened fifty years later, the parchment falls in to the hands of young boy named Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), who’s father John Koesler (Nicholas Cage) comes across the meaning of the numbers by chance. The seemingly random numbers correspond to every major disaster that has taken place in the world in the last 50 years, and as John finds out, in the upcoming days as well.

The film from the start sets itself apart from others in this genre by taking a philosophical and intelligent route, posing the question of whether the universe acts in a deterministic or random manner. Our protagonist, John, simply states in one of his lectures that “s**t happens”, and through the course of this movie we begin to unravel the nature of his character and the clashes the prophetic numbers place on his beliefs. The film on numerous occasions pauses to raise fundamental questions about how we perceive destiny against free will. These moments of contemplation could have been a weakness in the film yet they are one of its finest strengths as we the audience feel equally engaged in asking these questions ourselves. For the religiously inclined among you; there may be a blasphemous tone to proceedings but only because it will make you think.

Alex Proyas takes this conventional formula and delivers it with the utmost excellence. The moods the film evokes are so genuine and so thrilling that it honestly feels like you are part of this prophetic experience. The special affects are simply astounding, never have I felt such chill and terror viewing shocking catastrophes take place because they felt so real. Honestly, in this regard the film is so satisfying and pure it makes ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ feel like it was a prostitute. Nicholas Cage is a great actor, a very intense and involving persona and I felt he carried the movie well. His son played by little known Chandler Canterbury however left much to be desired, I never felt any weight behind Caleb’s character because the acting was almost amateur at times. I know he is just a boy but when you have phenomenal child acting in movies like ‘Signs’ and ‘Bridge to Terabithia’, its fair to expect excellence.

John analysing the perplexing heresy behind the numbers.

John analysing the perplexing heresy behind the numbers.

Movie wise I hardly have any complaints but what is stopping me from rating this highly are the questions that the somewhat creatively insipid and stupid ending put in my head. However, again this is beautifully open to interpretation and I am sure everyone will perceive the events that unfold towards the end of the film in their very own relative way. Looking back I enjoyed the fact that the ending upset me; it means that it made me think.

Regardless of my qualms with the kids, the logical barriers the film evades and the ending it alludes to, I feel completely satisfied with this movie and can simply conclude that this is what a great movie watching experience is all about. It entertains, it evokes, it scares, it thrills, it questions and at the end poses brilliantly poignant questions that will illicit many a discussion with whomsoever you have shared that experience with. More than any other film, I highly recommend that anyone and everyone check this movie out.



6 Responses to “Toon’s Review: Knowing – 7/10”

  1. MA Says:

    Knowing – 3.5/10 . Because of its ending.
    While watching it .. probably a 6/10.
    It does keep you at the edge of your seat, but I thought it failed, or didn’t live up to by expectations in its ‘philosophical’ aspect of destiny vs. random events which you have highly praised.
    Actually that was one of the things that was annoying me while watching it.

    As for its ending, I was going to walk out of the theatre because it sucked so much.

    I was also expecting – but not hoping – there would be a relationship between the story of the movie and the story of Hezkial – a Nabiyy sent to the Children of Israel which we know little about.. but there wasn’t.

  2. Oj. Says:

    MA – I disagree with you. I think it held up the philosophical aspect quite well throughout the movie. I would’ve liked to have seen Proyas delve further into the issue of destiny etc. but i think Nicholas Cage did an admirable job of expressing to the audience just how torn he was about having his beliefs shaken to their very core.

    What was particularly interesting and was perhaps the turning point in the movie, is the phone call Cage makes to his father foretelling him the end of the world and trying to get him to go to the basement or somewhere underground. I can’t exactly remember what his Father’s reply is, but it is somewhat to the extent that we are accepting our fate as it is.
    The importance of this conversation is only revealed much later in the movie when Cage goes back to spend the final few moments with his family..seemingly, he has accepted, that after experiencing first-hand how both science and these prophetic numbers have failed to save him and the lives of others…it is time to accept his fate as it has been written out years before. His family find solace in this through religion, judgement day and so on…Cage finds this through other means and yet them coming together in the end is an acceptance that this is how it was meant to be and there is nothing we can do about it.

    The ending did not bother me at all. The re-birth of the human species through what was definitly a reference to the religious Adam and Eve concept…(maybe even Noah’s ark)…is simply a matter of Proyas exercising his creative juices. It throws up a lot of questions about Religion, God and even science. It challenges us to think and ask questions, simply for the reason that it does not sit well with us and i think Proyas would’ve wanted that.
    As for Ezekial, i would’ve really liked that idea. Except how many people would have actually gotten that reference or understood it? Adam and Eve, Judgement day, these are more conventional concepts. Understood by all and that’s how Proyas made this movie relatable to everyone.

  3. toonstar Says:

    I’m with Oj on this one, although I know exactly how you feel about the ending. I felt extremely annoyed at its conclusion, especially after such a great build up. The first thing I said in my review was that I’m not sure what I would rate this movie and I meant it, as soon as the movie finished my mind was spinning thinking about what I thought I wanted to see at the end of the world… and specifically how I felt upset with Proyas’ conception of angels and aliens.

    Although to Proyas’ credit, I think he left just the perfect amount of ambiguity over every part of the ending. I’ve followed up and read articles and opinions of various people around the interweb and its amazing how many perfectly reasonable explanations and interpretations have gone around.

    May I point you to read this:

    A very good read, I’m positive it will make you think a little harder.

  4. SRK Says:

    it was in one word, PATHETIC! nick cage needs to quit n retire! its high time!! i mean why make a damn movie when u dont have the ability to end it properly! ALIENS? ANOTHER PLANET? and nick cage let his kid go sooooo easily, like he wanted to get rid of the lil brat! no emotion, no suspense, no thrill, no feeling, and lastly, NO STORY!
    useless movie!

  5. toonstar Says:

    I hated the ending as well, like I stated if you read the review before lambasting me.

    I appreciate its ambiguity because it poses interesting questions that are open to interpretation. ‘Knowing’ makes you think. The whole film was about embracing the end of the world, because it is inescapably coming. It was an artistic showing of the end, and blasphemous in my opinion as it questions whether we think angels and God is just alien. I hated that, but the real question is what is an alien? Someone we don’t quite know or understand and fear. Take that as you please.

    There was some interesting imagery when the aliens were shown to have almost a wisp of wings symbolizing them as angels, but it was very subtle and you only would have noticed it if you thought along those religious lines. Again I question this because who are we to say that angels have wings? It is just human poetry, and an attempt personify what is alien and unanswered to us. Just like Christianity has symbolized and personified Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ), so that it is easier for them to relate to such things. However this has come at the cost of humanity not fearing what it can picture, hence we see constant mockery of Jesus Christ in the main stream media, because we have personified a Prophet. And do not pause to think about or fear the consequences. There is a reason God has forbidden us to imagine him and personify his prophets, angels and jinn.

  6. SRK Says:


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