Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
What do you get when you mix one part spectacular, one part Nicolas Cage, and two parts baffling weirdness? You get the apocalyptic thriller “Knowing.” Directed by Sci-fi veteran Alex Proyas (“Dark City”) “Knowing” is the story of how the world could end.
“Knowing” starts out normal enough. An elementary school class has been instructed to draw pictures of what they think the future will look like, because they’re preparing to put all their drawings into a time capsule that won’t be opened until 50 years later. As the children draw spaceships and floating cars, a pale girl sits in the back corner scribbling a series of numbers furiously on her paper.
Flash forward 50 years. The time capsule is about to come out of the ground. There’s a ceremony and everyone in the community has gathered around to witness the opening. John Koestler (Nicolas Cage “National Treasure”) and his son Chandler are in the crowd. John teaches physics at MIT and Chandler attends the school where the time capsule is being unveiled.
As revealed in the movie’s trailer all the children are given an envelope with a drawing that was made 50 years ago, John’s son gets the mysterious numbered page. After his son brings home the paper John happens along a series of numbers that look familiar and yep, you guessed it 9/11 was predicted in the series of numbers. John figures out that every number corresponds to a date that a disaster will happen, leading up to the end.
But, knowing that the paper predicts future disasters is not a spoiler, there is much more to wrap your head around in this film. Who are the pale people following around John’s son, every once and a while giving him smooth black stones? Who was the little girl that wrote down the mysterious numbers? How will the world end?
There are some spectacular scenes in “Knowing,” some so graphic that I’m surprised it got away with a PG-13 rating. The trailer briefly shows a train and plane crash, but in the film those scenes last for quite a while. They look very real. With people running around on fire, and splattering against the windshield of a train, its almost too real. Some of the “shaky-cam” effects work nicely here, giving the film an authentic feel, but after a while you’ll become queasy trying to focus on elements of the disaster only to be thrown around by the camera.
Through all of this John has to question his own life. As a man of science he’s never believed in a higher power. Everything in the history of the universe has been just one giant coincidence after another. He has an ongoing distrust with his father because he’s a preacher, and he’s reeling from the loss of his wife in a fire years ago.
If you’ve ever read “The Forge of God” you’ll see a lot of similarities here. Contrary to what films like “Armegeddon” have taught us, humans are completely worthless when it comes to stopping the end of the world. “Knowing” is essentially about acceptance and it makes some good points, just don’t stay for the very last shot of the movie. It garnered some very unintentional laughter in my screening.