Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Knowing" (2009) - Movie Review

“Knowing” is the science fiction film we have been missing so far. When the death of the genre was ironically cremated by the overloading of CGI and less effort on telling the story, the hope was lost. At least on personal level I gave up that there is not going to be another awestruck films what the classic sci-fi came up with “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and of course the Spielberg ventures. And Nicolas Cage is a strange actor who does couple of trashiest films possible like “Bangkok Dangerous” and “National Treasure” sequel and then surprises with “Lord of War” and “The Weatherman”. So when the publicity rolled down for this film with him in the lead, it instantly fell into the former category of worst films. But this is one of the most visually visceral with a PG-13 rating and a story of pure science fiction saw through successfully till the end by director Alex Proyas.

In the year of 1959 as the typical Hollywood scare kid tactics comes Lucinda (Lara Robinson). She writes crazy numbers and that is put in a time capsule buried in front of a school marking its establishment. After fifty years, it is unearthed and the number sheet lands in the hands of Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) the son of MIT Astrophysicist John (Nicolas Cage), a man who has lost his wife to a fire incident a year back. Now he lives coping with his geeky son and hitting the bottle while delving into the sorrow and peace to the music of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (a detail I was able to acquire from a nice reviewer in iTunes). The same Beethoven’s music comes to a dark poetic drive in the end.

Numbers are a disciplined form of poetry. A poetry which seems methodical and defeating the free flow of art but it is one of the greatest mystical and crystalline vision from the human. Numbers attract logic people to prove the illogic and vice versa by the illogic to convince themselves of the sanity they have. And it also attracts bad scripts and thus worst films. Here being the man of science, John finds the connection and it seems too good to be true. His principles and beliefs are disturbed. All the sequence of numbers gives the date and death toll for the past fifty years. Three have not happened and John wants to do something about it. He sees the hotel fire accident which killed his wife in the numbers too. His drive becomes more to prevent these catastrophes.

Thankfully and very very immensely thankfully this is not in it entirety used as a play ground for thrill rides and CGI rains. While of course it uses the CGI effects, its attention to the story remains unperturbed. John continuously and laboriously watches the television to see any disaster events matching the prediction. Failing to see it, he thinks to realize his errancy and goes to pick up his kid from school when he gets stuck in traffic. While leaving apologetic message to a friend and a colleague he got mad at for ridiculing his story, he realizes the unaccounted number to be something else. He is in the spot of the disaster and the disaster which happens in front of him blows your mind but terrorize the hell out of the viewers. In a single shot, we see John being inches away from the happening and then goes into the chaotic scenery of people suffering from burns. He is in to the core of hell in those moments and we are put through that ordeal. A magnitude of such accident happens in a subway which is another scene giving chills.

“Knowing” does not hold suspense. The “whisperers” the kids hearing and seeing does not need any explanation. If anything the sci-fi genre has taught us, it is to identify the human like characters to be not human at all. It is not a ghost story but a horror film in the imminent events of calamity that could cause annihilation with a reason if you want to. As the film goes into its stages of explaining the happenings, a moment of small words leaves it completely better and best from not going in details about the predictions. It becomes immaterial at that point.

We live the life thriving for purpose and reasons. Does “Knowing” advocates theism or atheism? Honestly it does the politically correct in a very convincing fashion of being agnostic. But that is the integrity of the script wherein labeling and deciding is not possible with such a small particle in the cosmic being of us. Nothing becomes the best answer to the existence. It resolves everything. The meaning and purpose are defined by the emotional discovery we make through the life. Many have it in different forms in the most appreciative and of course the most sickest way possible too. The hunt for the reason can only take some one to a certain distance to keep them going but beyond that, it is all left to the moment, the precise perfect single second of our existence which might instantly dismissed in fractions and disposed permanently.

Hope as bright and cheesy it sounds is also as “Red” in “The Shawshank Redemption” says is a dangerous thing. You do not drive yourself into insanity but stay peaceful within the realms of one’s mind. But again how one’s mind will be judged and there we go again into this infinite circles of thoughts till we expire it. “Knowing” does not say much but makes you wonder of these possibilities. It also does not relish in the mad and stupid chaos of the whole world. It centers around on its primary character who seem to be a good blend of nice traits. A scientist with a pastor father and who has seen loved one departed from him. His journey into preventing and finding answers are thrilling, terrorizing, puzzling and with an answer of no answer. Fate, becomes a unsubstantiated reason and evidence for the beliefs one holds but also an information one do not want to know if supplied. Its existence helps in moving on for the one’s who has lost something immeasurable out of no fault of their own but it is also something that keeps one from not moving on of the general crowd who see it as a purpose of life. The last film which made me think so much into complex sentences was “The Fountain”. And “Knowing” brings more than that reaching wider audience and was a great movie experience in the genre of science fiction for me.

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