This time Nicholas Cage is John Coestler, an MIT professor who has just been widowed and spends his nights (surprise, surprise) wallowing away in a dark, grungy house with his liquor and his son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) watching The Discovery Channel in the next room. He refuses to go out on dinner dates, sleeps through his alarm clock, and muddles through his lectures with distracting flashbacks of his misery.
One mundane afternoon, dad almost forgets his son’s ceremony at school during which the elementary class has planned to unveil a time capsule that was encased 50 years prior. Caleb and each of his classmates are given a sealed envelope, supposedly containing a drawing depicting the life and times of 1959. Caleb, however, is the recipient of a page of numbers. Lots and lots of numbers, front and back. The student who wrote the numbers was Lucinda, a creepy kid who heard whispers and wrote down the numbers told to her. Lucinda was so entranced in scribbling these numbers that when time was up and her teacher took her paper from her, she continued to scratch the numbers on her desk and then on the inside of the school basement’s closet door with bloody fingernails. OK, so I guess the numbers are of some importance.
Anyway, Caleb has Lucinda’s sheet of obscure numbers and then weird guys with white hair and dark eyes start showing up in the trees around his home. Smooth, black rocks are handed out like candy, and John is growing suspicious.
After a particularly good bottle of liquor (or bad), John takes the page of numbers and decodes them on a whiteboard. He discovers that the mysterious numbers are the exact dates and coordinates of world disasters, complete with the precise number of people killed in each tragedy. There are three dates left, and the last one indicates that everyone will die. Just a coincidence, John’s colleague says. Maybe, John considers, until he sees an airplane come sliding through the sky to a fiery crash landing before his eyes. The code reveals a 100 percent accuracy rate. Someone has to stop the end of the world from its prophesied destruction, and time is running out.
I must admit, the special effects were impressive. The story was captivating. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. And then, it happened. Like so many times before, like so many good stories gone bad, the ending fell apart. It’s sort of like hitting a fly ball way out in left field for the series-winning run, when a pterodactyl screams down from the clouds and carries your ball away. Or like watching the Heels make it to the Final Four, and just before tip-off the game is forfeited because the NCAA Tournament officials deemed that a team cannot legally be represented by two different mascots. I mean really, are Carolina fans supposed to be Rams or feet? Choose one already!
Director Alex Proyas was so close to stardom. Hey, maybe that’s why Cage’s character drinks so much — because he knows how the film’s going to end. Still, I think “Knowing” is worth seeing. As long as you are prepared to be disappointed by the ending, the first half of the film is riveting. The special effects are realistic to the untrained eye, and the concept is, at first, thought provoking. But I warned you, the ending is ridiculous and is a disaster all of its own.
Rated PG-13 for disaster sequences, disturbing images, and brief strong language and running at 121 minutes, “Knowing” rises high and then falls back down to 3 bags of popcorn.
And by the way, go Heels.
Kammeron Polverari writes a movie review for The Robesonian.