“What happens when the numbers run out?”
Nicolas Cage stars in yet another action thriller, Knowing, as John Koestler, a top college professor and recent widower with a son, Caleb, played by Chandler Canterbury. Once a 50-year-old time capsule is opened at Caleb’s school, John’s life is never the same again. John’s intellectual discussions with his students prime you for a taut, dialogue-ridden plotline, but instead you get a largely action-based experience where filmmakers leave the scenarios and conclusions to your interpretation.
Prophecy and seemingly airtight knowledge spurs responsible actions on John's part, which drives his cross country heroics, including an amazing roadside sequence that's one of the most memorable in years. By the end, John’s emotional spiritual journey, largely resulting in his dramatic actions, becomes more important than his logic and educational prowess.
Caleb’s character stays a bit uneven even though you know the obvious (he misses his mom, etc.), so the ensuing drama and ending relationship between John and Caleb doesn't have a high impact. Australian actress Rose Byrne stars as Diana, the daughter of the young student, Lucinda, who wrote the letter from the capsule that Caleb opens. Rising star Lara Robinson stars as Diana’s young daughter Abby as well as a young Lucinda. Aussie acting veteran Ben Mendelsohn plays John’s colleague Phil. John’s sister, Grace, is played by Nadia Townsend, a close friend of Byrne. The two lead women don’t get a scene together, but they keep audience interest high and the realistic emotions steady.
Some mysterious characters also factor into the plot. They function well except their trench coat wardrobe choice might make you question how "non-threatening" they are. Some of these characters are tall enough to make you forget about possible weapons underneath their clothes. A different costume choice would have injected more originality and fewer popular culture/school shooting comparisons/thoughts.
Director Alex Proyas can definitely handle the special effects, lighting, and cinematography that propel this “doom and gloom” plot into a meaningful experience. Filmmakers even add a few appealing hero elements like when characters discuss the assumed sense you get when people you love are in danger and the awesome ability (and responsibility) to help others in need.
The amazing action creates a worldwide scope that won’t overwhelm most audiences throughout this two hour and 10 minute gem, which will likely spark discussion on several different subjects (e.g. fate, coincidences, determinism vs. random events, etc.). The visual effects may hook in general audiences, but if you really invest in John’s family and the haunting discoveries he makes, then you’ll enjoy a personal story containing some echoes of familiar themed films. Recommended and rated PG-13 for disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language.