Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Lara Robinson, Ben Mendelsohn
Directed By: Alex Proyas
I’ve been sticking to really “structured” reviews. Plot, What Works, What Doesn’t, Final Word, and Final Grade. This review won’t follow that structure, largely because I’ve already seen Knowing before, so this is not my first time seeing the film.
I don’t know why I chose to watch this again, but I’m kind of glad I did. If I was going off what I remembered about this film, it might have ended up on my bottom 100 list (which I am currently working on). It doesn’t deserve that. I don’t know why I hated this film so much the first time I saw it. Is it a good film? No. But it is not one of the worst films ever made.
Nicolas Cage is over the top, that’s for sure. But some like their Cage that way, so for you that might be a plus. One thing I hated about this film was that the two main kids (Canterbury/Robinson) are constantly acting like Children of the Corn. These kids have zero personality. They’re the most depressing kids on film. They just sit there and stare a lot. They’re not really even creepy, they’re just incredibly dull.
There’s a cool concept in Knowing, which I didn’t really appreciate before I suppose. Watching it unfold again, and remembering plot points yet to come was interesting. I remember hating the ending, and I still hate the ending. People who defend Knowing (yes, there are people who defend Knowing) might think I mean the aliens/angels angle. No, that’s not it at all. My problem is the final shot of the movie, which features our two main kids running across a field to a tree. Like Adam and Eve? Are you going to provide for them? Cause these two kids definitely do not know how to hunt and gather, and have shown zero life skills at being able to survive without their parents. In fact, putting these two kids on their own will almost certainly lead to their death. So why these two kids? Why are there no other children shown? Was it not important enough to get a racial balance in the new world? It’s kinda racist to say the saviors of the human race are two white kids. I still hate absolutely everything about this ending.
The special effects are OK. This film had about a 50M budget, which is just enough to make one or two decent FX shots. Instead, they went for 3-4 passable FX shots. For example, the train sequence in Skyfall looks much better than the train sequence in Knowing. One looks real, one just looks like good CGI. The difference is that you know one shot is clearly fake, even if it does look pretty good for being fake. It takes you out of the movie.
Rarely do I watch a film that I hated, then have the opportunity to turn around and say “actually…”. Normally, I never revisit a film that I’ve tagged as “awful”, because what’s the point? For some reason, I came back to Knowing, and found myself appreciating the screenplay a lot more. The screenplay is probably the best thing about this film, as the base concept for this film is intriguing. It’s what keeps you watching long after you’ve given up on the characters. I can’t help but think that a film from the director of The Crow and I Robot should have been much better, but this is the film we got anyway.
FINAL GRADE: C-