Knowing (2009) starring Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson, D.G. Maloney, Nadia Townsend, Alan Hopgood, Adrienne Pickering directed by Alex Proyas Movie Review

Knowing (2009)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Nicolas Cage as John Koestler in Knowing

Knowing isn't all that it is cracked up to be

To put it simply "Knowing" would have made for one heck of a good "X-Files" movies, the whole story has that feel and style as it evolves from being one thing into something much more. But sadly it isn't, and even sadder is the fact that despite starting so well it ends up a convoluted mess spiralling completely out of control as it tries to evolve the story into some larger and different. I suppose for those who watch a movie purely for its stars and action "Knowing" has the potential to satisfy but for those who want something more and a bit of intelligence to things will find it lacking.

50 years after a class of students placed their predictions of the future into a time capsule, the capsule is dug up and the predictions are opened by the current students. Young Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury) gets the predictions which Lucinda (Lara Robinson) came up with 50 years earlier but rather than a picture it is one very long string of numbers. Intrigued by the numbers Caleb's father John (Nicolas Cage - National Treasure: Book of Secrets), a lecturer at MIT discovers that these numbers are a series of dates and coordinates to major disasters which have happened in those 50 years but also that there are 3 still to come and their coming soon. Whilst trying to get to the bottom of how Lucinda managed to predict the future he also tries to intervene in the disasters from happening whilst also worrying about Caleb who has begun to hear strange voices and see strange people lurking in the shadows.

Rose Byrne as Diana in Knowing

"Knowing" is a movie which evolves, it starts of seeming to be about one thing but by the end has evolved into something much bigger and different. So at the start we get this flashback to the 1950s and a class drawing what their visions of the future will be to put in a time capsule except one girl Lucinda rights this very long and strange sequence of numbers seemingly possessed by something as she frantically scribbles them down. Jump 50 years and we have the time capsule being opened and Caleb being the child who opens the envelope containing Lucinda's strange sequence of numbers. All of which makes you wonder where this is going especially as we have a couple of extra elements such as mysterious men who lurk in the shadows and that Caleb is hearing weird noises.

It's a good start and gets better when we have Caleb's father John working out that these numbers are in fact predictions, dates and coordinates of disasters which tie in with those which have happened during those 50 years. But rather than just being about disasters which have happened there are 3 sets of figures for disasters all to come and John finds himself in the situation of knowing when disaster will strike. It is a surprisingly clever idea and well worked with John finding himself by accident at the scene of the first of these 3 disasters, a scene which is full on action and big special effects. And as you would expect with John knowing when disaster will strike finds himself trying to prevent the next one.

But that is only half of what "Knowing" is about because the story evolves as time ticks down on the final disaster and those mysterious men we witnessed early on become of major importance. Now I am not going into detail because to explain would spoil the twists but for me by evolving the storyline into something else is a step too far. I know that "Knowing" is far fetched but what happens is even more far fetched and whilst allows it to have a bit of a disaster movie feel with big special effects it also becomes a bit laughable. It's almost a case that there is too much going on and so every step of the evolving storyline just adds to the issues.

But you get a sense that whilst director Alex Proyas tried to deliver the cleverness of the storyline his first priority was to make "Knowing" a visual treat. Even before we get the first big disaster and it is big, Proyas creates several big visuals especially in the early scene as we watch Lucinda frantically writing down the numbers. It grabs your attention and whilst I didn't enjoy how the story evolved there is no denying that he turns up the dial on the action with scenes of mass destruction which rival Roland Emmerich's "2012".

The knock on effect of "Knowing" ending up all about the visuals is that the performances become all about the visual at the same time. Nicolas Cage as John Koestler is all about big facial expressions and manic movements whilst being the almost action hero character at the centre of it all. It works that it is in tune with the movie but it also makes John a thin character, a stereotype from any disaster movie but one with out any real depth despite learning that his wife died in a previous disaster. Chandler Canterbury as his son Caleb is certainly less manic but again it is about visual presence rather than character depth and so it goes on with every actor delivering a visual performance rather than an in-depth characterization.

What this all boils down to is that "Knowing" is entertaining especially if you want a movie which starts out a little clever and then evolves into simple visual entertainment full of big action scenes and bigger special effects. But it just feels like a wasted opportunity because it starts so well that it could have been something truly brilliant and ingenious rather than just another action fuelled disaster movie which evolves into something very different to how it starts.