John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) is a man who lives in a world of facts. As a professor at M.I.T. he is more concerned about things that can be proven through hard science than with things that cannot be proven. With the recent loss of his wife leaving him a single father, John is not willing to accept the notion of a grand plan or the notion of heaven easily.
John’s son Caleb (Chandler Cantebury), morns the loss of his mother and looks to pick up his life with his father unaware of the dramatic turn that fate has in store for them both in the new film “Knowing” by Director Alex Proyas.
When a 50 year old time capsule is unearthed at Caleb’s school he and his fellow classmates eagerly await the envelopes contained within as each student is eager to see what the students from the past have placed in the envelopes as their predictions of the future. Caleb’s envelope contains not a picture but a series of numbers which he quickly dismisses.
One evening at home, John accidently notices the series of numbers and notices the date of 9/11/01 is included followed by a number. Intrigued, John looks up the 9/11 terror attacks online and is surprised that the numbers on the paper that follow the date are the exact death count from the attack. An all night study of the paper indicates to John that the exact date and death count of tragedies from the last fifty years are contained on the paper with some other numbers John cannot account for. What John does know is that there are three dates left on the paper, all of which are in the near future.
Further complicating matters is that the paper contains the data for the accident the killed John’s wife which leads him to believe that he can alter the outcome of the tragedies that are yet to happen and that he has been chosen to save those destined for a tragic death.
When mysterious individuals start to appear near Caleb, John finds himself in a race against time to get to the bottom of the mystery. His efforts lead him to Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne), the daughter of the girl who wrote the numbers on the sheet. While at first reluctant to become involved Diana and her daughter join John and Caleb in a frantic race against time with the very fate of the world hanging in the balance.
“Knowing” is a very compelling drama that mixes action and suspense with expert pacing to produce a first rate and entertaining thriller. Proyas keeps the film moving at a brisk pace but is not afraid to let the film slow down to allow the tension to build. The FX in the film are first rate and while spectacular are not the main attraction to this character driven drama. Though a bit monotone and restrained for my taste, Cage does solid work as the Skeptical John who realizes that there are forces in the universe that cannot be explained and who comes across as a likeable everyman in an extraordinary situation.
The strong script and direction is well balanced by the supporting cast. The ending of the film might be a bit to Hollywood for some, and for me, did detract slightly from the first ¾ of the film.
That being said, “Knowing” was a very enjoyable film and reminded me of the type of films that M. Night Shyamalan used to make, and probably wishes he had done.
4 stars out of 5