The Knowing

The Knowing is the new film starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Alex Proyas.  It opened in Australia a few weeks ago, and as I write this it is sitting number 5 in the US theatrical box office at US$68 million after four weeks of release.  In Australia after two weeks, it was sitting at number two with about Aus$4.6 million, and will probably have an equivalent run here (Australia, that is) – which is defined at approximately 10% of the US box office (not discounting for exchange rates).  (These figures will change quickly over time.)

Proyas directed one of my all-time favourite films – I, Robot – the first two-thirds of which are truly haunting, as well as some of the scenes towards the end (robots looking depressed and peering out of shipping containers – wow!).  His other work includes Dark City and The Crow.

Proyas is Australian and shot The Knowing in Melbourne – standing in for Boston (I have always know Melbourne was a good surrogate for Boston or Philadelphia, glad someone else worked this out too), and the film features a large number of Australian actors (Rose Byrne, D.G. Maloney, Ben Mendelsohn, the haunting Lara Robinson, Nadia Townsend) all playing Americans.  For those who know downtown Melbourne, there are a number of street scenes where you can recognise landmarks – sometimes digitally altered.  There is also a scene in front of the Victorian Parliament where the film-makers did not remove a Victorian train map (as it was supposed to be in New York at the time).

The Knowing is a highly effective film, sticking with me well more than a day afterwards – although it sure takes an unrelieved “we don’t have free will/mankind is doomed approach” to the story.  (Not exactly the sort of message that makes you want to get up in the morning.)  The action and effects are stunning, but be warned – try NOT to view a complete preview prior to seeing the film.  I saw the preview twice and it gave away the two biggest disaster set pieces in the film, so that I was not surprised when I was supposed to be.  Shame on those who put that trailer together.  (There is a third disaster set piece that was new to me, but it was less important to the plot.)

The Knowing is set in Lexington, Massachusetts – it starts in 1959 with the laying of a time capsule that will be brought up 50 years later, and a young girl had written a whole page of numbers that our hero (Cage, doing his suitably mournful appearance – and boy does he have things to mourn – a dead wife, a kid who hears things, a depressing gray and brown house and the end of the world facing him) works out that the page is actually a whole chart of disasters which took – and will take – place.  I have been to Lexington a number of times, and what a shame that the film did not make more use of this very historic town (one of the birthplaces of the American Revolution) just outside of Boston.  It could just have easily been set in anysuburb USA, why Lexington?  Next time, scriptwriters, make a good connection with historical meaning – perhaps this is where the Melbourne shoot did hinder the film?

A good sci-fi/supernatural/action thriller.

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