Knowing (2009)

2012 #54
Alex Proyas | 121 mins | Blu-ray | 15 / PG-13

This review contains spoilers and made-up words.

Not many people seem to like Knowing. Quit the opposite, in fact. I must confess, I’m not really sure why. I can read their reasons, of course, but I still thought it was a decent film. Solidly entertaining even, I’d say.

At its heart is an intriguing mystery. Arguably this conquers all. There are attempts at giving the characters depth — Nic Cage’s wife died, his son is autistic; Rose Byrne’s mother was mad; etc — but these are more about giving them a reason to care about the plot than making them three dimensional human beings. But that’s not necessarily a problem — I’d suggest if you’re watching a film like Knowing with the intention of focusing on the characters rather than the mystery then you’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

As for that mystery — that, 50 years ago, a schoolgirl wrote down the dates and casualty numbers for every major disaster since — it’s well handled, mostly. No one is easily convinced of it, until there’s evidence; a logical point, but not every film in this kind of genre has bothered with such things as reason and logic. One could reasonably question what counts as a major disaster, if the sheet of paper she filled looks long enough to get all those numbers down, and other such technical queries, but that seems like needless nitpicking.

Cage’s desperation to stop the disasters he knows are coming leads to several sequences of proper cinematic awe. The scenes that depict a pair of devastating accidents show off some spectacular effects work. Perhaps it’s not photo-real perfect, but I found it more engaging than many films that poured most of their effort into crafting outstanding CGI. I suspect this is the skill of director Alex Proyas and his teams of animators and editors, constructing angles and shots that convey these disasters impressively. The single-shot plane crash is a particularly striking sequence.

I remember the ending being one of the film’s more controversial aspects; I certainly recall some taking umbrage with it. Again, I don’t really see why. It fits; it’s seeded throughout. Maybe they wanted something supernatural? Maybe they were Christians objecting to the scientification of their myths? Maybe atheists objecting to the religisifying of aliens and broadly scientific concepts? Or maybe they were just viewers who missed the little — and big — hints that mean every element of the ending flows quite naturally from what we’ve seen so far. It doesn’t tie everything up in a neat little bow, but none of it precludes the audience from filling in the gaps with their own thoughts and theories.

I will accept, however, that the very last shot is arguably a step too far and a little cheesy.

Not many people seem to like Knowing. Quite the opposite, in fact. I must confess, I’m not really sure why. I can read their reasons, of course, but I still thought it was a decent film. Solidly entertaining even, I’d say.

4 out of 5

1 thought on “Knowing (2009)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.