Rating: 2 stars
The key to watching Knowing is to simply enjoy the ride. Because if you start to connect the dots—and they’re all there, laid out pretty obviously—you begin to realize that something truly silly and self-important is about to transpire. Anticipating a horrible ending—and Knowing’s is a real doozy—is a surefire way to ruin a film.
But at least for a while, Knowing is a decent, if overly noisy, sc-fi/action/horror film about a creepy little girl who buries a series of frantically scrawled numbers in a time capsule. Fifty years later, that time capsule is dug up and her scrawlings are given to 10-year-old Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) who is being raised by his widower father John (Nic Cage) an MIT astrophysicist.
John, an atheist who believes that everything in life is random, inspects the numbers and begins to see that they correspond to the dates and casualty counts of world-wide disasters—many that took place after the capsule was buried and some that are yet to come. John becomes convinced that it’s his job to alert people to the disasters and he does action star things like run toward a burning plane and chase a bad guy around a New York subway. (I love when astrophysicists do that.) Meanwhile, these spectral, platinum-haired figures seem to be haunting Caleb—are they dangerous? all in his dreams? even human?
This is silly and scary fun for a while, but as soon as John mentions a pastor father and we meet his sister Grace, I knew that this non-believer would have some sort of religious epiphany. But, wait, aren’t those plantinum guys really aliens? The thing that makes Knowing so weird is how it mixes its metaphors, both philosophically and cinematically. Is it going for a Spielberg-style family bonding together against the big, bad unknown? In that case, it should’ve better developed the characters of John and Caleb. Is it trying for an End of Days style apocalyptic cautionary tale? In that case, it might’ve explained what mankind has done to deserve such a horrible fate. (Or maybe the film thinks it’s obvious?). Is it science-based or spiritually-based? Is it meant to merely entertain or is it actually supposed to edify? Sadly, all these muddled ingredients result in that truly ridiculous ending. Much like John and his piece of paper, we know the bad thing’s coming but we’re helpless to stop it.