Knowing (2009)

Rating: C-

Dir: Alex Proyas
Star: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Lara Robinson

50 years ago, a time-capsule was buried to commemorate the day a school was opened, including one pupil’s contributions, a sheet filled with densely-scrawled numbers. Five decades later, the capsule is retrieved, and the sheet comes into the hands of Caleb (Canterbury), whose father is Professor John Koestler (Cage), an MIT professor. Intrigued by the digits, he discovers that in there is both the date and the number of casualties of the 9/11 attacks, and discovers that the sheet also accurately predicts a large number of apocalyptic events which took place since the capsule was sealed. There are also three that appear to be yet to happen, and when the first of these comes true, he realizes the enormous potential of what he holds in his hands.

Investigating, he discovers the girl who wrote the sheet is dead, but her daughter Diana (Byrne) appears to know more about the mystery than she initially lets on. Can the Professor figure out the keys to the other two events, and will be able to stop them, or is everything locked into a cycle of predetermined events? While large chunks of this are, naturally, pretentious and nonsensical bollocks, it has just enough of an epic, grand scope to its bollocks to be salvageable. Proyas has a long track record of striking imagery, and this is showcase in the path to destruction along which Koestler travels – never more so than a two-minute single shot of an air-crash, into whose blasted remains the hero staggers, trying feebly to help.

That captures admirably a feeling of helplessness in the face of outside events, sadly missing during later, larger-scale disasters to come. And the whole scenario doesn’t really make much sense; you get to the end, receive the explanation, and find yourself thinking, “Hang on…” We were expecting the “Nicolas Cage loses his shit” scene, and there were certainly moments with potential, however, Cage is restrained here, by his standards; can’t say he’s too convincing as a professor at one of the world’s most prestigious academic establishments, yet he’s not an embarrassment. Best of to treat this as high-class disaster porn, no more.