Nicolas Cage, Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson
Ryne Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, Stuart Hazeldine, Alex Proyas
There is one thing I know.
Nicolas Cage doesn't "act" anymore.
Cage emotes. Cage explodes. Cage bewilders. Cage rants.
Cage does not act.
Acting, though, is not required in "Knowing," the latest film from director Alex Proyas ("Dark City"). All that is required is for Cage to emote, explode, bewilder and rant.
In "Knowing," Cage plays John Koestler, an astrophysics professor at MIT and grieving widow and, now, single father of Caleb (Chandler Canterbury). When Caleb and his fellow students unearth a time capsule from 1959 at school, each student receives an item from the capsule.
See where this is going?
Caleb receives a mysterious spreadsheet of numbers.
A pattern, perhaps?
We learn of a creepy girl (Lara Robinson) who intensely drew the pattern and, fifty years later, her daughter (Rose Byrne) and her daughter's daughter (a returning Lara Robinson).
Creepfest, the sequel.
If all this sounds more humorous than creepy, you're not far off the mark. That's the biggest problem with "Knowing," a film in which the apocalyptic "end of the world" scenario elicits more guffaws than gasps.
Of course, I suppose that if I KNEW the end of the world was near I may very well party like it was 1999.
Being a Nicolas Cage film, there's an over-abundance of opposition, fellow scientist Phil Beckman (Ben Mendelsohn), an assortment of oddfellows, here called "the whisper people," and amazingly freakin' awesome special effects.
Seriously. The airplane scene? Absolutely stunning.
The truth is you either resonate with Cage's acting style, see Ebert's four-star review of "Knowing," or you simply don't (see Peter Hartlaub's San Francisco Chronicle review).
Or, better yet, just ignore us on this one.
We're film critics. Despite our own opinions, we're not perfect. If we're good at our jobs, we're also FANS of movies and not just intellectual snobs pointing out the frequently obvious cinematic and technical flaws in a film.
If you're going to see "Knowing," I'd venture a guess that you already know what to expect.
Well, there is one exception.
Don't expect Proyas to recreate "Dark City." "Knowing" does contain the Proyas' trademark touches of atmosphere and mood. However, "Knowing" is far closer to another recent Proyas flick, "I, Robot."
Marco Beltrami's musical score is largely spot-on, though it occasionally joins Cage in dipping into histrionics, Simon Duggan's cinematography is practically worth the price of the ticket itself and Steven Jones-Evans' production design gives the film an appropriately creepy, book of Revelations type feeling.
Not a chance.
"Knowing" is Nicolas Cage being Nicolas Cage in a film that requires Cage to be Cage. It's hard, actually impossible, to not give "Knowing" a modest recommendation because Proyas and Cage succeed in creating a film that is entertaining, even if it is occasionally for the wrong reasons.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic