Reviews & Previews - Knowing

Posted on Friday, March 20, 2009 at 06:00 PM


By: S. Tran

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Running Time: 130 minutes
Rated: PG-13

Ambitious Thriller Falls Short

Knowing attempts to do some fairly heavy lifting as this thriller explores the connection between religion and science; determinism versus randomness. While the film tries its best to make us think the end result is a movie that just leaves the audience a bit confused.

Nic Cage stars as John, an widowed astrophysicist, whose life is turned upside down when his son Caleb (Canterbury), brings home a piece of paper filled with mysterious numbers buried 50 years earlier in a time capsule. As he struggles to decipher the meaning of the numbers, his son is visited by eerie, mysterious strangers with unknown motives. Diana (Byrne) is the daughter of the girl who originally wrote the numbers and she is tracked down by John to help unravel the mystery.

The premise of the film is intriguing but as the story develops it begins to devolve into a mash of science fiction and horror and religious symbolism all mixed up. Plot elements that seemed important turn out to serve no real purpose at all. We start to feel John's frustration at one point when he wonders what's the point of all of this? When the final image drops on the screen like a sledgehammer you realize that any attempt at subtlety was thrown out the window to make sure we didn't miss the clever turn.

Another problem with the film is that it seems a bit long at two hours, even more so when it takes John only about 2 minutes to unlock the meaning of the numbers. There is an subplot involving John's father for instance, that really adds nothing but time to the movie. Yet for as long as the movie was I have a hard time trying to remember what happened to fill up those two hours.

Nic Cage seemed like he pretty much phoned in his role for this part and its getting hard to figure out if he has played a different character in the last few years. No one else in the movie was really horrible but there won't be much to remember after the credits role. It was refreshing to see Canterbury play the son without the usual annoying child actor ticks though. His performance as the curious, older than his years young boy was quite good.

Aside from the problems with the plot and pacing the movie did have some good special effects and impressive explode-y type scenes. I wonder if this would have been a better movie if the focus was on the disasters rather than the weak story behind the numbers.


2.5 out of 5 stars.


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