Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, D.G. Maloney
Directed by Alex Proyas
There are many things that make for a chilling horror film. Monsters … killings … an unknown supernatural force … even a tiny bit of supernatural dread can get a pass. From Knowing we get the latter, a mere suggestion of a supernatural influence and the slightest glimmer of otherworldly hands swatting planes out of the sky and onto the head of Nic Cage. It’s going to be near impossible to cut through the pretense and not give away the shocking true plot beneath (note the sarcasm), so I’ll just put this out there at the start and save you all hope. THIS IS NOT A HORROR MOVIE! Move along now.
For the rest of you, we continue. John Koestler (Cage) is a teacher … or a gifted scientist … or both … it’s never clarified, but for the purposes (and convenience) of this film he’ll pull double duty. He’s also a single father to an extremely bright son named Caleb and a grieving widower who is estranged from his preacher father after losing his faith. No, this is not an M. Night movie. One bright and sunny day little Caleb takes part in a time capsule opening ceremony. Some years back children that went to the same school drew pictures of the future for inclusion in the capsule. One creepy little girl, urged on by whispering voices, fills her page up with numbers. So as to not squelch her artistic expression, they throw it in the capsule anyway. Flash back forward, and sure enough Caleb gets the spooky girl code, which finds its way into the hands of his hard drinking dad later that night. EVEN DRUNK, Mr. Koestler is soooo smart that he quickly identifies a hidden code within the numbers, revealing cataclysm, death and chaos that lead from the time the capsule was dropped to this very day. Three dates are left on the page … and they are coming soon.
Now it’s a race against … something … to unravel … something … and save … SOMEONE!! Seriously, the movie dissolves into Cage running around trying to warn people about the numbers, but he doesn’t know exactly what is going to happen or where it’s coming from, so we get the crazy doomsayer routine by day and boozing while lamenting by night. Somewhere along the way he stalks and then inexplicably recruits Diana Wayland (Byrne), daughter of the crazy, spooky girl to help unravel the mystery that is still not the plot of an M. Night movie.
In the plus category we get some truly jaw-dropping carnage when these “events” occur. Bodies go airborne, catch fire and are crushed like so many puppets swatted by the hand of an angry child. These scenes are unrelenting in their cruelty and fantastically executed by whichever wizards were in control of that task. They should be damn proud! Unfortunately, it’s the only thing to be proud of.
Nearly every other element of this film is terminally flawed. Early on Cage locks in his “concerned” face and never lets it drop. One moment he’s racing into danger to alert the innocents of impending doom and the next, when his child seems in danger, the pace slows a bit. No rush. Very odd. It almost seems like Cage read the script and decided this was not worth breaking a sweat over, so he doesn’t. I like Cage. I’ve seen him act his ass off. This is not that moment. Rose Byrne is given next to nothing to do but react, teary eyed in mock astonishment, to any revelation Cage uncovers. It’s not enough to make me care. This leaves all of the emotional content to little Caleb and Diana’s daughter Abby, who periodically hear the voices of “The Whisperers” and walk around like the little stony-faced girl from Signs. Again, this is not a … oh, forget it. Even M. Night would go see this movie and laugh at how horribly he’s been robbed … horribly being the active word.
The creators of this film scramble to create deep, creeping dread with little planted hints and some trench-coated characters who appear at odd moments … sometimes in the dead of night as sinister silhouettes … sometimes driving up in a car. I’m suppressing a laugh just thinking about it. These characters are less ominous and more just plain peculiar. They point at things, disappear and seem obsessed with delivering little black rocks that have next to no bearing on the rest of the story and absolutely do not tie in to the mystery we are forced to endure. I was more afraid of the wind in The Happening. As we race about with our “heroes”, the most stereotypical music you could imagine blares in your ears, ensuring you are not sucked into one moment of ridiculousness. I swear at one point, as Cage revealed something obviously earth shattering, they actually played the official DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN music!!! Completely agonizing.
With phoned in acting, an ill-conceived plot backed by a thin script and an ending that just might anger you as you suspect the entire film was a plot hatched by Scientologists to recruit you, Knowing becomes less a movie and more a warning. Those of us that now know have a responsibility to warn our loved ones. You might even say Knowing is half the battle. (Had to go there.) The other half is staying away from this movie.
1 out of 5
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