Knowing **1/2 (out of ****)

Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: Juliet Snowden and Stiles White
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson, Phil Beckman, Nadia Townsend
Rating: PG-13 (disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief language)
Running Time: 122 min
Release Date: 3/20/09

Back in 1959 a school teacher announces to a class that they will draw pictures of what the future, 50 years hence, we be like to be placed in a time capsule. Most of them draw pictures of spaceships, robots, or other science fiction concepts. But, Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson) fills her paper with a large sequence of numbers.

Now fast forward to the present where a MIT astrophysics professor, John Koestler (Nicolas Cage), is giving a lecture to his class about determinism versus randomness. As an aside perhaps the name of this character was taken for Arthur Koestler who was an advocate of Jungian synchronicity. This farms our attention for what comes next. His son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), is a student at the same school and it is time to open the capsule. Guess which one Caleb pulls from the capsule? Yes, the one with all the numbers. Caleb takes it home even though he was supposed to give it back to the school. This brings the paper to the attention of his father who tells Caleb that he will take it back the next day. Before long he is working all night deciphering the pattern.

Before long John discovers that the part of each number sequence relates to the data of major disasters over the last 50 years. John is soon part of one of them as a freak plane crash occurs on a highway in the middle of a traffic jam. This clues John into the fact the rest of the number sequence is the longitude and latitude of the events. So now he can predict the next disaster.

Before long, strange figures begin appearing to Caleb. John become alarmed and reacts as any protective father wood. There a large subplot about John caring for Caleb after the death of his wife. But these figures are not kidnappers or sexual predators. It’s not that kind of movie. John begins to investigate the girl who wrote the number sequence so many years ago. She is dead but he then meets Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne). Diana is Lucinda’s daughter and she has a young daughter Abby (Lara Robinson). After a rough beginning, John and Diana work together to solve the mystery while Caleb and Abby both see even more of these apparitions.

After a disaster in a New York subway there is only one more date but the coordinates are missing. What can they be? Tension mounts and a visit to Lucinda’s abandoned home reveals some strange black pebbles and a picture of Ezekiel wheel. The pending disaster is going to be a really big one. But is UFOlogy or theology most relevant?

Proyas is an excellent director and the film certainly grips your attention until the rather surprising end. Nicolas Cage plays these roles to perfection. His presence and Proyas directing saves a rather mediocre plot but it can’t make this into a first rate movie. It isn’t scary enough to be a horror film. It isn’t logical enough to be realistic sci fi film. It’s no doubt inspired by the 2012 disaster theories that are currently in vogue in some quarters combined with elements of traditional religious end of the world theology. But, all things considered it’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.

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