“Knowing” contains a lot of interesting ideas and uncommon suspense for an end of the world thriller. Normally movies like this are more intent of showing us lots of cities being wiped out by tidal waves, tornadoes, or meteors, but “Knowing” gives more time to it’s characters to try and apply intelligence to the situation. The movie also asks questions about religion and fate, giving weight to all theories about the origins of life and the universe. And when the moments of disaster do come, they are truly terrifying as opposed to just spectacle.
The story begins in the 1950’s during a ceremony at an elementary school. The children are asked to draw pictures of what the future might look like, then they will seal their pictures up in a time capsule. Fifty years later they will dig up the capsule. All the eager children create different images, but one ominous little girl simply fills her page with a series of numbers. When we find our selves in current time, the capsule is opened to a group of excited children and the paper with nothing but numbers finds its way in to the hands of Caleb Koelster.
Caleb’s father is John (Nicolas Cage), a professor at MIT. It is he who uncovers a chilling pattern in the numbers. They seem to predict, with precise accuracy, the date, location and the death toll of every major disaster of the past fifty years. Even more startling is the three predictions that have yet to come. Things become all the more terrifying for John when he is in the right place at the right time for the next disaster on the list. After that he attempts to alert the authorities for the next one. The final prediction seems to indicate that it could be a disaster of global proportions.
John’s son seems to be connected some how as he is constantly followed by strange, white haired strangers in black clothing. They appear, always in silence, indicating more ominous events that could take place. Who they are and where they come from adds a whole other dynamic to an already engaging film.
As I already said, most other thrillers of this nature simply want to rush us to the special effects. This film builds tension using mood and atmosphere, so when the effects come, they are all the more frightening. Also for once, the event that is threatening the world is something truly horrific. It scared me to my core. It seems like an event that is possible given the state of our world. But what I found most fascinating is that movie poses questions about whether or not the universe is deterministic or if everything happens by chance.
Director Alex Proyas is someone I have watched for a long time. I have been waiting since “Dark City” for him to make another great film. I wouldn’t say that this movie is as good as “Dark City” but it is light years better then most sci-fi thrillers. I appreciate the overall look of his films. This one is no different. Every scene looks great. The production is top notch. I love when a good thriller is drenched in a dark and ominous atmosphere that doesn’t distract from the story. Proyas also gets a performance out of Nic Cage that shows us why he is better then movies like “National Treasure”.
Now I known that there are going to be haters out there. Yes the movie is far fetched and a lot of what happens is highly unlikely, but isn’t that why we go to the movies? Sure the main characters always seem to find themselves in the right place at the right time, but at no point in this movie did I find my intelligence insulted. “Knowing” remains smart, engaging and truly frightening from beginning to end.