March 22, 2009
Review - " Knowing " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Flash-forward to present day: MIT professor John Koestler (Cage) is engaging in a class discussion of determinism vs chaos
theory, with his students. As they debate the argument of whether the future is pre-determined or unwritten and open to
change, John loses himself in thought, still coping with the loss of his wife, who died in a disastrous hotel fire prior to the
events of this movie. John soon heads out to attend his son Jacob's school's time capsule unveiling, and is puzzled at the
content of the letter his son receives: Lucinda's cryptic numbers. Jacob smuggles the letter home, and asks his father what
the letter means.
Over the course of that evening, John's research leads him to realize that the numbers aren't random at all, but instead list
with exact precision the most disastrous events of the past 50 years, including the hotel fire that claimed his wife. With more
numbers following these dates, John posits that they may in fact predict upcoming events, and tries to find a way to prevent
them, possibly saving lives. Seeking validation from a fellow scientist (Ben Mendelsohn), and trying to learn more about the
woman who as a child wrote these numbers, John frantically seeks to verify whether the next event is really slated to occur as
the numbers predict, or whether this is all a series of random events, which simply happen to match numbers written down
five decades back. Are these just numbers? How could they be so precise despite having been sealed underground for so
long? What happens when the numbers run out? Knowing explores this question, while allowing audience debate as to fate
At first glance, the sheer concept of this film - a mystery composed of scientific, philosophical and possibly metaphysical
components - has all of the elements of an M. Night Shyamalan thriller. Though the trailer for this movie does give away
many of the film's major plot points (a plane crash, a subway catastrophe) "Knowing" still holds enough material to make for a
sustained drama, which keeps the audience guessing right until the end. Relying on a clever script as the framework for this
complex drama dealing with philosophical elements, director Alex Proyas still holds enough material back, feeding more and
more pieces of the equation to the audience, until the movie's shocking finale comes about.
Nicolas Cage does his usual thing here, giving us a man obsessed with finding answers to questions which shouldn't always
be asked, while still doing his best to protect his son. Cage's antics thankfully take a backseat to the story itself, as this
film leans more towards an event movie, than a character-based drama.
Look for some high intensity visual effects during major disaster sequences (as referred to in the movie trailer). This film is
recommended for fans of Sci-Fi, disaster films and metaphysical concepts. Disaster films have always played off our
weakness to see cities leveled and nameless extras
consumed by infernos. This film is no exception, though
there may be mixed opinions as to the ending. "Knowing"
takes a creepy delight in staging the most terrifying scenarios
for our viewing pleasure. Having some well-meaning
characters express token concern for the fate of mankind
doesn't balance the scale.
I won't give away the ending, except to warn that it struggles
to squeeze optimism out of the most fatalistic finale. And, by
the end, the opening mystery of how Lucinda predicted future
tragedies still isn't explained. The script toys with issues of
spiritual faith. It's not difficult to parallels to the biblical book
of genesis with Adam and Eve, or should we say Jacob and
Abby, being set loose in the Garden of Eden by a benevolent
and all knowing god. Wait! Is that an apple tree ?
Directed By Alex Proyas
Starring: Nicola Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson
In "Knowing", Cage plays professor John Koestler, an MIT teacher whose son's
elementary school is about to unveil a time capsule buried in 1959. As his son
Jacob (Chandler Canterbury) receives a letter written by a student from 50 years
back, the letter contains a series of cryptic numbers, which appear random at
first. As John soon discovers, nothing is random, and life as we know it may be
taking an unexpected turn.
Lexington, Massachusetts, 1959. Students of the local elementary school are
being asked to draw what they think the future will look like in the year 2009. All
children draw various pictures of rocketships, flying cars, all except the quiet and
very shy Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson). Trance-like, she frantically writes a
seemingly endless series of what appear to be random numbers. As the school's
custodians bury the capsule, Lucinda goes missing only to be found in one of the
school's basement closets, still obsessively writing more numbers on the closet
door with her bloodied fingernails.