Wednesday, April 1, 2009
KNOWING (2009) - Alex Proyas
Dear oh dear. I say that on two counts. Firstly, what on earth happened to Nicholas Cage’s career? Secondly, why in the hell do I pay money to see this guy’s films? On rare occasions, Cage does manage to deliver a good performance. Matchstick Men. Or Adaptation. But in seven years, the guy has delivered shitty performance after shitty performance. They range from pure awful, to laughably ridiculous. Will Knowing, directed by I, Robot helmer Alex Proyas buck the trend? No.
Cage is in po-faced form as John Koestler, a recently widowed father of one. He’s a professor of astro-physics at MIT and failing as a father. His son’s school unearth a time capsule buried fifty years previous that contains letters from the children of 1959. Koestler’s son, Caleb comes into possession of a sheet of paper with seemingly random numbers. However, Koestler discovers a pattern in the numbers. A pattern that seems to have predicted every major disaster in the last fifty years, plus three as of yet unrevealed events. So Koestler begins his mission to stop the final three disasters and keep his son safe from men who seems to be following the family.
M. Night Shyamalan called. He wants his script back. Yes, Knowing, even down to it’s title seems to have been the type of film Shyamalan would have made before he set fire to his career with Lady In The Water. It’s got all the hallmarks. Creepy concept. Check. Intelligent, yet tortured central character. Check. Estranged, or even dead wife. Check. Ludicrous twist. Checkmate. The only real difference here is, the creepiness isn’t as well executed as it would be in a Shyamalan film. Despite his increasingly crappy films, the guy, at one point, could do creepy. Proyas isn’t a bad director. Dark City was a pretty good science fiction flick. I, Robot, while being a complete bastardisation of the source material, wasn’t awful. But here, the concept and ideas overshadow Proyas’ otherwise solid craftsmanship.
And onto the real crippling factor. Nicholas Cage. Good lord, this guy is bad news for a film. If he’s playing a dour old git, he really sucks the life out of everyone around him. He’s like a talent black hole. Rose Byrne, who has gotten consistently better in films like 28 Weeks Later and Sunshine suffers in the vacuum of Cage’s awfulness. One particular scene, set in a petrol station is laughably stupid. Ironically, it’s one of the few scenes that don’t feature Cage. Cage simply cant act. He may have won an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, but since then, he seems to be on an odyssey to create the worst post-Oscar career. Forget Cuba Gooding Jnr. Forget Robin Williams. Cage is the man leading the race. Which is ironic seeing as Cage cant even seem to run convincingly like a human. Seriously. Watch the scenes where he's at full pace. He looks ridiculous. Thankfully though, there are no bees in this film.
The whole film just seems rather ludicrous. Character choices are bafflingly stupid. At one point, Cage finds himself right in the middle of a plane crash. He just runs headlong into the disaster without any concept of self-preservation. And the special effects are very ropey. The ending, has the courage of it’s convictions. But then jumps the shark immediately afterwards with a special-effects laden scene that is as stupid as it is badly-executed. It’s just a complete mess.