One of the best films of the last decade.


I don’t know what to say about Knowing.  This film was dismissed critically when it first came out.  Isn’t the critics job to persuade people from making a mistake?  I almost didn’t see “Knowing” when it came to the theatres because it looked like your stupid typical Nic Cage tripe a la “Next,” and more of that I could do without.  Luckily it came up on the tail end of a drive-in double feature and I was blown away.  My girlfriend and I spent the 45 minute drive home with the radio off discussing its implications.

If you know anything about the movie, then you are aware that it is absurd.  A child scrawls a long list of numbers onto a sheet of paper that is being prepared for a class time capsule.  She is so determined to get them all in, that when the teacher forcibly removes the paper, she tears up her fingernails digging the remaining numbers into a closet door.

Cut to fifty years later.  Nicolas Cage’s son, Caleb is among the students who get to look into the time capsule and see what students fifty years ago were doing.  Caleb’s peers think that he got the shit end of the deal—the rest of them got cool pictures, he simply got a long list of numbers.

And then, you know the way things happen.  Nic Cage accidentally puts down a glass on the paper, which creates a water ring that circles a set of numbers…among them 9, 11, and the number of people who perished on 9/11/2001.  It turns out all the numbers are associated with disasters.

Among them, the event that killed his wife is on the list.  Which separated him from his family (his father is a pastor), and wrecked his faith and put his life, basically, on hold.  He spends nights drinking and causing water rings to appear on paper when he puts his Scotch down.

And so the film is a mystery.  And of course there are deadlines.  There are events predicted on the paper that haven’t happened yet!  Which, of course leads to hurried sequences and sweeping chase music that you would come to expect from summer entertainment.

But there is so much more!  Imagery and thought and discussion.  Alex Proyas’s film puts a lot on the table for you to digest AND he doesn’t skimp when it comes to apocalyptic entertainment.  And he pulls no punches.  One could even say he takes things further than Hillcoat’s “The Road,” but be sure to read above…because Proyas knows how to impart enough hope into the proceedings.  Otherwise, I could never imagine how this picture may have gotten greenlit.

So, if you can get over the absurdity of the thing, yet keep your brain a’rolling.  I think there is a lot of reward in this film.  Where did the numbers come from?  If they are predictions of unstoppable events, then what is their purpose?  Are the events unstoppable?  Were they written specifically for Nic Cage’s character, or could anyone have found them?  What is chance?  What is fate?  Even the characters names allude to so much more.  Are there aliens?  Are there angels?  Are what we at some point concocted as angels, simply an extraterrestrial life force?  Oh, but I am already giving too much away, and we haven’t even scraped the surface of the film’s implications.

 I would say it was one of the top ten films of 2009.  Alex Proyas has both hit and missed (HIT: Dark City; MISS: I, Robot) but this is a damn home run.

NOTE: I must make a decision on how I blog these movies.  I’m beginning to teeter a line between a review that assumes you haven’t seen the movie, and a discussion that assumes you did.)

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