Nicolas Cage has had a string of less than stellar work in recent years, and at first I thought that Knowing would fall right into place with Ghost Rider, Bangkok Dangerous, Next, and so on. What I didn't expect is a film that really wanted to be good, but had some very heavy topics to discuss that you don't normally get in your usual popcorn fare.
The plot follows Cage as M.I.T. professor John Koestler. While attending the anniversary of John's son's school, a time capsule is opened. The contents contain drawings by the school children from fifty years prior, except one suspect letter. It is John's son who receives a letter that contains a series of numbers that seem unrelated. It is with further investigation that John discovers that they all predict natural disasters over that last fifty years, and there are three more yet to happen.
This brings about the heavy topics I spoke of. In a classroom scene, John sets up the argument between the theories of Determinism and Randomness. Determinism tells us that everything happens for a reason and was meant to happen, whereas Randomness says that all events have no meaning. Everything is a coincidence and that there is no real purpose to life at all. So what exactly are these numbers, then?
The film starts off well with a good amount of suspense pertaining to when and if the next disaster will happen and leads us into some decent effects with a plane crash and a subway crash. The plane crash scene is mediocre, but in my opinion was better executed in the first episode of TV's Lost. The subway crash, on the other hand, is much more entertaining.
Unfortunately the film falls apart mostly, only bringing it all back together for an exciting climax and an ambiguous ending. The true origin of the numbers is in question as well. Are they alien in nature or from a biblical origin? I did appreciate that you are forced to discuss the ending and what all of these events mean. Screenwriter Ryne Douglas Pearson starts off with a great idea, but something gets lost in translation. The fact that director Alex Proyas was behind this film excited me, due to my enjoyment of two of his previous films Dark City and The Crow, but his usual doom and gloom seems toned down and what does show up doesn't really make sense. I implore anyone to give me a good reason why a relatively normal father and son live in spooky, run-down house.
Knowing tries to be many things, but what it isn't outweighs the good.