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'Knowing' Movie Review

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating
User Rating 3.5 Star Rating (2 Reviews)


Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne in 'Knowing

Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne in 'Knowing.'

© Summit Entertainment
If I'd have known Knowing's last half an hour was going to play out the way it did, I wouldn't have wasted my time watching the first hour and a half. Knowing takes an interesting premise and all but destroys it with a final act that's, at select moments, jaw-droppingly ludicrous. Knowing's loaded with possibility, but flounders its way to a disappointing conclusion.

It's not Nicolas Cage's fault Knowing doesn't work. Cage, who can and usually does go overboard in scenes meant to convey stressful situations, actually keeps himself reined in. It's the script and the effects that are totally out of control.

The Story

It's 1959 and a classroom full of elementary school students is busy drawing pictures to insert into a time capsule to be buried in the school's courtyard. The students draw pretty pictures of robots and rocket ships and other items representing what they believe the world will look like in 50 years when the capsule's opened. But there's one student, Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson), whose drawing is unlike the others. Lucinda's hearing voices and those voices are telling her to write down numbers that, on the surface, look to be totally random.

Nicolas Cage in Knowing

Nicolas Cage in 'Knowing.'

© Summit Entertainment
Flash forward 50 years and astrophysicist John Koestler (Cage) is a widower raising a super bright 10 year old son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), who's wise beyond his years. He's also a sensitive boy with a hearing problem which causes him to use a hearing aid. He's not deaf, as John points out, he just hears things jumbled sometimes and the hearing aid helps him sort the words out.

When the time capsule is opened at a special ceremony, each member of Caleb's elementary school class is handed an envelope containing one of the drawings done 50 years prior. Caleb receives Lucinda's paper, which he finds fascinating enough to take home instead of leaving it at the school as instructed.

John, who has a bit of a drinking problem, downs some booze and strangely enough, that helps clear up the meaning of the Lucinda's numbers. John becomes obsessed with the idea that the paper actually lists major incidents in which people have died over the past 50 years (including 9/11). And, of course, there are three catastrophes on the paper that haven't yet occurred and John believes he can stop them from happening. To do this he tracks down the now deceased Lucinda's daughter, Diana (Rose Byrne), and granddaughter, Abby (Robinson, again). As they attempt to put the final pieces of the puzzle together, strange men watch their houses and whisper bizarre things into Abby and Caleb's ears.

The Cast

The kid actors – Robinson and Canterbury – aren't annoyingly precocious and are fine young performers. And Rose Byrne does a decent damsel in distress to Cage's 'I'll protect my son at all costs' action guy. Byrne adds a lot emotionally to the story, an important element as Cage, despite the fact he apparently loves his son, comes across as mildly detached.

The Bottom Line

Are we just going through the motions as our fate is already determined, no matter how desperately we want to change our future? Knowing does address that question but with a very unsatisfying resolution. It tosses out half a dozen red herrings along the way, two or three of which would have been much more intriguing to follow than the ultimate conclusion to the film.

Nicolas Cage in Knowing

Nicolas Cage in 'Knowing.'

© Summit Entertainment
The pacing's off, which is disappointing as I never found that to be an issue with director Alex Proyas' previous films (Dark City, The Crow, I, Robot). I was also disappointed with the way the huge action set pieces were integrated into the story. It felt like someone had this great vision of plane and train crashes and just had to find a way to work them into a feature film. Why Cage's character acts and reacts the way he does at times doesn't make the least bit of sense, unless the point is to just push another action scene into Knowing.

Knowing's a film that never seems to figure out what it wants to be, but it goes here, there and everywhere in one big hurry. Riddled with problems, Knowing isn't likely to impress anyone but the most ardent Nicolas Cage fans. But even those may be hard-pressed to endure the ending without letting out a laugh or two.


Knowing was directed by Alex Proyas and is rated PG-13 for disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language.

Theatrical Release Date: March 20, 2009

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 3 out of 5
Cage? Bad film? What? - Knowing, Member shmrckv

Well I've gotta say, unfortunately I have to agree with most reviews of this film, and it pains me it really does to admit that I actually fell asleep during a Nicholas Cage film! Though saying that, I did actually like the film, well the start of it anyway... I don't however believe it was a terrible film, it just... lacked something, but what? The plots alright, the actions good and the effects are actually quite good. The character? Nah, Cage pulled it off really well even if his backstory wasn't that great. So what was wrong with it? I was a little bit upset with the ending of the film, even if it was refreshing from the old ""Someone saves the day at the last minute and everyones happy and the stars don't die Blah Blah Blah."" The aliens were well done though, that whole creepy silence thing and the kid communication, but it hasn't exactlly not been done before, y'know? All in all, it's not great but not bad either, I'd reccomend it to any Cage fan, or someone who enjoys the whole prophesy doomsday genre plot.

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