‘Knowing’ entertains despite lame plot

josh.snyder

Film: Knowing

Director: Alex Proyas

Producers: Jason Blumenthal,

Todd Black, Steve Tisch

Writers: Ryne Douglas Pearson,

Alex Proyas

Starring: Nicolas Cage,

Lara Robinson

Runtime: 121 minutes

Rating: PG-13

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I rarely use the word silly to describe anything, much less the latest mystery-thriller burning up the box-office, but that’s the only word that comes to mind when I think of Nicolas Cage’s latest epic, “Knowing.” It’s just a silly movie, one that, against all odds, is not a complete waste of time, yet it’s so strange it shouldn’t even exist in the first place.

“Knowing” is a mystery flick at heart, yet just about every other genre is crammed into the plot. The story revolves around MIT professor John Koestler (Cage) and his discovery of a sheet of numbers that may or may not predict the end of the world. Yes, Nicolas Cage is an MIT professor, and yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. His son Caleb (Chandler Cantebury), who wears a hearing aid and has mastered sign language but isn’t deaf, retrieves the numbers from a time capsule buried at his school 50 years prior. With what may be the most important mystery in the history of mankind, father and son set out on an amazing journey, filled with exploding planes, derailed subway trains and all sorts of twists and turns that would make M. Night Shyamalan proud.

And what a journey “Knowing” is. When I say it covers just about every genre, I’m not kidding — imdb.com lists it as an “action, drama, mystery, sci-fi thriller.” About the only genre it doesn’t try to include is comedy, although the dialogue sure does a fine job of making audiences laugh. Lines such as “my scientific brain is telling me to stop this” are sure to be crowd pleasers that will be quoted for years to come. And of course, who can resist seeing Cage scream “It’s the numbers! The numbers are the key!” like a rabies-infested Rottweiler. However, terrible as the plot and dialogue may be, it’s oddly enjoyable, mainly because “Knowing” never takes itself too seriously.

Although this varied story takes quite a bit away from an already dull premise, it doesn’t completely kill “Knowing.” The biggest surprise is how well choreographed the action sequences are. The plane crash scene, which was featured prominently in the trailer, is really incredible as it is filmed in one continuous segment with no cuts, a la “Children of Men.” This scene, along with the other action-oriented segments throughout the film, offer up some stunning CGI work typically reserved for the biggest Hollywood blockbusters.

Usually, this is where I would bash Cage for another terrible performance, wondering where his promising career went so horribly wrong. However, he handles his character well — it’s not an earth-shattering performance, but a solid one nonetheless. Even if Cage was his usual, worse-than-train-wreck self, he wouldn’t come close to comparing to the awfulness that is Cantebury and actress Rose Byrne, the film’s supposed love interest. I know Cantebury is only a child but if this is a sign of his career he needs to just give up now. His “performance” makes Jake Lloyd’s infamous portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in “The Phantom Menace” seem deep and emotional. Fortunately, Cantebury’s character isn’t too annoying, just the same can’t be said for Byrne. Not only does she bring nothing to the film but her character is headache inducing.

The icing on the cake is the film’s overt use of Christian symbolism. It works sometimes, but most of the time it’s just laughable in its heavy handedness. It serves as the perfect counterbalance to the atrocious acting — it will make audiences laugh while offering a slight amount of intrigue, which is the perfect summary for “Knowing.” It’s not a good film, more often than not it’s a bad one, but it entertains, even when it’s not trying to. Yet it’s still not worth the price of admission. If anything, “Knowing” is nothing but a rental.