Let’s all admit it, taking shots at Nicolas Cage’s latest acting gigs has been about as much fun as catching fish in a barrel — it’s fun for a moment, but it’s too damn easy and one quickly gets bored with it. But hey, he deserved it — Bangkok Dangerous and Ghost Rider, to name a few, were some piss poor movies (I suspect they were done solely for the paycheck).
So when it is announced he would be starring in some sort of movie that had him doomed to see the future and not have anyone believe him (i.e., the Cassandra Complex), I immediately got my pencil ready for a scathing review. And then I watched Knowing. The movie review I had expected to write was no longer applicable — I found I actually liked the film.
At the center of the movie is a paper on which seemingly random numbers were scribbled upon by a troubled little girl named Lucinda (Lara Robinson) in 1959. 50 years later, this same sheet of paper resurfaces and finds its way into the hands of Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) and his mathematician father John Koestler (Cage). After downing a bottle of scotch in an effort to drown his sorrows over the loss of his wife, John notices a pattern — the numbers exactly align with cataclysmic events. And so begins his attempt to warn and convince others of impending doom when he notices several of the dates have yet to transpire.
Sure, we’ve all seen or heard it before, but there were several things that set Knowing apart from the host of other similarly themed movies.
First, it was generally heartfelt. The film showcased strong familial relationships that are easily identifiable and well acted out. Father-son relationship between John and Caleb is rock solid, as they pretty much only have one another as a support mechanism. Most touching is the great lengths and sacrifices John goes through to ensure his son is safe. Then there is the broken father-son relationship between John and his father, Reverend Koestler (Alan Hopgood). Only in the face of their own mortality do they reconcile their differences in a touching scene. It makes one think that the time to bury the hatchet with loved ones should happen well before there is no time to do it in.
The biggest bang of Knowing, however, comes rather unexpectedly — the scenes of destruction are magnificently crafted and shot. I don’t think I’ve ever witnesses a plane crash on film quite so disturbingly or vividly real before. You think everyone dies on impact? Think again. Same goes for an incredibly sequenced roll of a subway train going off the tracks. “Wow”, is a word that sums it up rather nicely.
But, c’mon, we can’t forget it’s a Nicolas Cage film; there has got to be a downside hidden somewhere within. There is. I could have done without the ending. It’s cheesier than a bowl of macaroni & cheese and thoroughly out of place. There’s also more than a handful of moments where Mr. Cage hams it up for the camera; thankfully, they’re easy to look beyond.
So while I can’t look into the future, I’m 97.63% certain Knowing is not a turning point in Nic’s movie choices. Therefore, I strongly suggest seeing it before the upcoming movie Kick-Ass retarnishes his good name and we go back to taking shots at him again.