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March 25, 2009 > Movie Review: Knowing - An epic disappointment

Movie Review: Knowing - An epic disappointment

By Joe Samagond

"Knowing" is a disappointment especially because its story has so much potential. It opens in 1959, with an elementary class's burial of a time capsule. While the students are busy scribbling pictures of the future, one little girl has filled both sides of her paper with an endless string of numbers. We fast forward to the time capsule's exhumation today. Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), the son of MIT professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage), is now a student at the same elementary school. He receives the little girl's page of numbers and takes it home, challenging his father to find the pattern. Cage, a heavy drinker and a widower, figures out that the numbers are a code, predicting the date, location and body count of every major disaster from the past 50 years including 9/11. It even includes the event that caused the death of Koestler's wife. Three more calamitous events are coming. Will he be able to avert the inevitable?

"Knowing" sets up the outline of the story really well - the mystery of the numbers, the disasters they foretell, and the emotional journey that John takes is all good. But the payoff is where things fall apart. Director Alex Proyas has taken some very good material and messed it up. Even the scene where Koestler finally breaks the code is handled with no excitement at all. The gaunt and stoic-faced Cage borders on ridiculous here, in part because of a script that gives him little to do but over-react or act depressed. Proyas does deserve credit for boldly exploring a pure science-fiction theme. But the investigation of these ideas is so shallow, and often so contradictory, that the effort becomes patronizing. We also get the religious debate via hints about the long broken relationship between John and his preacher father. A thread about other life forms is woven in too courtesy of Caleb's hearing aid (don't ask!). All of them are equally disconnected.

The filmmaker does succeed with most of the special effects including an amazing plane crash sequence. Less successful is a scene in the woods with animals running away from an unseen inferno. It would be funny if it wasn't so ridiculous.

Rated: PG-13 [See Full Rating]for disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language

Runtime: 122 minutes

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