2019-11-12 12:12 KST  
  RSS
Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
JapanFocus
Nicolas Cage Is 'Knowing'
Apocalyptic thriller isn't thrilling enough
Brian Orndorf (briano)     Print Article 
Published 2009-03-20 13:59 (KST)   
©2009 Summit Entertainment
While "I, Robot" was a massive moneymaker for all participants involved, I don't know of anyone who exited the theater ecstatic with the results. Well, director Alex Proyas is back on the sci-fi chain gang, this time tackling the apocalyptic thriller "Knowing." A broad, leisurely jumble of Alfred Hitchcock-style suspense architecture and a dreary, paint-by-numbers Sci-Fi Channel Original, "Knowing" only seems to extract two reactions: nail-biting and eye-rolling. Proyas misjudges the material to both frightening and facepalm results, leaving "Knowing" a frothy brew of pleasing chaos and absolute absurdity.

Dealing with the heavy psychological burden of spousal loss, MIT professor John (Nicolas Cage) watches over his young son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) carefully, protecting him from life's social demands. To commemorate the unearthing of an elementary school time capsule buried 50 years earlier, each child is handed a drawing from the tube to study. Caleb is entrusted with a sheet of seemingly random numbers composed by a disturbed girl, triggering John's curiosity.

  TODAY'S TOP STORIES
OMNI's New Approach to Citizen Journalism
[Opinion] Democracy's Downfall
Technology Can Save Money, Planet
[Opinion] Iran Defends Peaceful 'Right'
Couchsurfing in Gaza
  FROM THE SECTION
Blissfully Yours
An Education
[Opinion Essay] J셙ccuse!
The Blind Side
Last Train Home
Figuring the numbers to be a cryptogram that has successfully predicted the world's worst disasters for five decades, John sets out to prevent the last three codes on the paper from realization. Trying to save lives while seeking out the author's offspring (Rose Byrne) for answers, John races against the clock to prevent a worldwide disaster from becoming a reality.

While I walked out of "Knowing" semi-disgusted with the film and with Proyas's shallow bag of tricks, I will readily admit that the feature shares a few wonderful moments of unpolluted suspense. Clearly motivated by Hitchcock's distinguished timing, Proyas finds amazing inspiration within the picture's disaster set pieces, in which John's frantic decoding takes him to the sites of plane crashes and subway collisions -- events he's attempting to prevent.

Proyas, ever the meticulous visual stylist, knows how to the twirl the tension knobs with skillful camerawork and a blaring Herrmannesque score from composer Marco Beltrami to accompany the havoc. The scenes connect, even with a few special effect blunders (John can apparently walk through fire unscathed), because they plug directly into the film's cracking premise as a chest-tightening disaster film. The ingenious ticking clock here is the code sheet, making "Knowing" a startlingly tight thriller when it boils down to the essentials of John identifying patterns and racing to save the day. Sure, plot holes and drastic leaps of logic swarm the picture, but all that can be forgiven when the film snaps to attention. "Knowing" has a few of those superlative moments.

However, "Knowing" also hungers to be a sci-fi extravaganza, populating the second half of the film with shadowy "whisper people" and reoccurring symbols of otherworldly recognition. To write that "Knowing" lost me with this detour is an understatement; the film positively croaks reaching for a more philosophical conclusion, seemingly embarrassed with the exhilarating coding clockwork that's come before.

Proyas has always fumbled plot mechanics in his previous efforts, and "Knowing" is not immune to the director's butterfingers. What easily could've been a tight, swell 80-minute-long joyride of a motion picture is flooded to 120 cumbersome minutes, force-feeding a frenzied climax that doesn't fit the tone of movie at all. To spotlight more of the script's screwy direction would be sprinting into spoiler territory, so I'll leave it dangle here. Suffice it to say, "Knowing" should've left well enough alone. To fatten the experience just to play to Hollywood blockbuster rules dilutes the tension and humiliates the cast.

Proyas attempts to sand down the blunt ends using Beethoven's mournful Symphony No. 7 and an unrealistically redemptive ending, but it can't cover the mistakes of the final product, which reaches further into lunacy with a masturbatory staging of a Roland Emmerich-style mass destruction derby to please the nervous executives. "Knowing" is 40 percent greatness and 60 percent hot air, which is especially maddening when, for a moment or two at least, the movie was perfect.

C-

Related Articles
'The Haunting in Connecticut'
Witness the 'Monsters vs. Aliens'
John Cena Loses All '12 Rounds'
Rev the Engines for 'Fast & Furious'
A Retro Trip to 'Adventureland'
'Forbidden Lies' Chases Norma Khouri
'Observe and Report' Out to Shock
'Hannah Montana: The Movie'
Heavy Metal Lives with ' Anvil! '




©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Brian Orndorf

Add to :  Add to Del.icio.usDel.icio.us |  Add to Digg this Digg  |  Add to reddit reddit |  Add to Y! MyWeb Y! MyWeb

Ronda Hauben
 
Netizens Question Cause of Cheonan Tragedy
Michael Werbowski
 
[Opinion] Democracy's Downfall
Michael Solis
 
Arizona's Immigration Bill and Korea
Yehonathan Tommer
 
Assassination in Dubai
[ESL/EFL Podcast] Saying No
Seventeenth in a series of English language lessons from Jennifer Lebedev...
  [ESL/EFL] Talking About Change
  [ESL/ EFL Podcast] Personal Finances
  [ESL/EFL] Buying and Selling
How worried are you about the H1N1 influenza virus?
  Very worried
  Somewhat worried
  Not yet
  Not at all
    * Vote to see the result.   
KOREA WORLD SCI&TECH ART&LIFE ENTERTAINMENT SPORTS GLOBAL WATCH INTERVIEWS PODCASTS
  copyright 1999 - 2019 ohmynews all rights reserved. internews@ohmynews.com Tel:+82-2-733-5505,5595(ext.125) Fax:+82-2-733-5011,5077