- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Summit Entertainment
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
lex Proyas was once a promising filmmaker with slick genre flicks like “The Crow” and “Dark City” to his name. But over the course of the last decade, any reputation he might have earned was lost after a less-than-stellar reception to the Australian rock indie “Garage Days” and the sci-fi blockbuster “I, Robot.” Fans of the director have certainly had their patience tested during the long, five-year wait for Proyas' next movie, and unfortunately, they might have to wait five more years before seeing anything resembling his stylish neo-noirs from the 90s. “Knowing” is like two movies crammed into one – an M. Night Shyamalan thriller disguised as a disaster film – and though it tries to make up for the identity crisis with a shocking twist ending, it's the film's ham-fisted finale that's ultimately to blame.
Nicolas Cage stars as John Koestler, an MIT astrophysicist still coping with the death of his wife. While attending a time capsule unearthing for the 50th anniversary of his son’s (Chandler Canterbury) school, John finds a cryptic list of numbers left by one of the original students. Initially disregarding it as nonsense, a happenchance glass stain clues him into the numbers’ real meaning: a series of predictions for every major disaster from the last 50 years, organized by date, location and body count. Believing that he might be able to prevent the next disaster from happening, John tracks down the daughter (Rose Byrne) of the woman who made the original prophecy. But when he discovers that the final prediction is for the end of the world, he realizes his involvement goes deeper than sheer coincidence.
“Knowing” is a difficult film to talk about because any mention of the events that take place after the above summary would be considered major spoiler territory. Oddly enough, it’s also the main reason why you’ll either love the film or find it terribly mediocre. Anyone that’s intrigued by numerical code will probably fall into the latter group, because by the end of the movie, you’ll realize that the numbers don’t really mean anything at all. They are merely a device of moving the story along, and what’s so maddening about this is that when the film’s real endgame is revealed, the audience isn’t given any answers as to why it’s happening. Granted, that’s kind of the point (the secret is all in the film’s title), but that doesn’t mean people will be happy about it.
That’s the risk you take when the success of your movie hinges completely on a twist ending. M. Night Shyamalan learned that the hard way, and while “Knowing” hasn’t been marketed as such, there’s no doubt that it will be judged on that factor alone. It’s too bad, because the movie not only features one of the more controlled performances from Nicolas Cage in quite awhile, but it’s probably the last time Alex Proyas will ever have so much creative control. The director’s fingerprints are all over “Knowing,” and the movie will likely spur the kind of intelligent debates his films are good for, but at the end of the day, it’s just another great concept that never makes the most of its potential.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The single-disc release of “Knowing” is far from spectacular, but there’s enough here to ensure that fans of the movie will be satisfied. The audio commentary with director Alex Proyas is extremely informative, while the making-of featurette (“Knowing All”) offers a behind-the-scenes look at things like casting and the filming of the more effects-heavy sequences. Conspiracy theorists will also get a kick out of “Visions of the Apocalypse,” a short history of apocalyptic prophecies and how they relate to the real world.