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Knowing

Year: 2009
Production Co: Escape Artists/Summit Entertainment
Director: Alex Proyas
Producer: Alex Proyas
Writer: Ryne Douglas Pearson/Juliet Snowden/Stiles White
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn
Another one bites the dust. This clunker is one long noise, and it's the noise of Alex Proyas walking off to the bank with his studio cheque laughing hysterically.

Nicholas Cage was never a reason to see this film – I've just about given up on him. He used to do a really good film for every steaming pile of studio crap he was in, but the latter have filled his CV of late to the extent I don't think he can tell the difference any more. The only thing that changes is his increasingly silly hairstyles.

But with the director of The Crow and Dark City at the helm, I expected vision. Even I, Robot was a committee picture but Proyas managed to infuse some of his distinct personality.

This overblown turkey starts off silly, goes to ludicrous and has nowhere else to go but completely unbelievable to make any impact, morphing into an end of the world thriller with graphics straight out of a cheap video game.

If it isn't the constant sense of 'could this get any more stupid', it's Cage with his dog-like tilted head, thinking out loud to deliver clunky exposition. Actually, that's just the start of it. It's the seesawing tone – one minute schmaltzy family drama, the next A Nightmare on Elm Street scary, the next so bloodthirsty (you've never seen more harrowing (or loud) plane or train crashes before) it's not for the faint hearted.

The whole film also has no idea what it is, starting off a creepy mystery thriller, ending up a full-blown When Worlds Collide sci-fi epic – or wanting to be. Just when you think you've stopped gagging on your popcorn from the hammy 'father's undying love' scenes, you get to turn white as the volume is turned all the way up and an out of control New York subway car hurtles through an underground station, smashing and flinging bodies left and right.

Cage is a scientist Dad who becomes obsessed with a piece of paper his son digs up from the school time capsule, a page of numbers. During a sleepless night he discovers the numbers depict the dates of historical disasters and how many people died in them. Realising the list goes beyond the current date, he becomes convinced he can predict and avert them, seeking out the daughter of the loony girl (Rose Byrne) who wrote the page down years ago to help.

But there's even more – like the strange, spectral, Duran Duran-like characters who keep turning up and being all enigmatic and menacing and who will resolve the movie's most idiotic subplot, but who – together with the huge, dark, creepy house – manage to steer Knowing almost into all-out horror territory.

The end result is an effects budget that doesn't know when to quit even though it shows early promise, an interesting enough idea left in the oven far too long, another terrible role and hairstyle for the increasingly forgettable Cage, and the last time I'll be excited to see an Alex Proyas movie. Roger Ebert's never had it so wrong.

And Ben Mendelsohn and Rose Byrne, I know acting work isn't easy to come by in Australia but didn't you read the script and imagine what you'd say to yourself years in the mirror years in the future, even if it meant a new pool decking for you both now?

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