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.
‘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.
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.