Although Nicolas Cage is becoming increasingly in danger of following John Travolta down the path of over-bloated pantomime acting, he’s certainly still watchable enough to carry a film. And it’s thanks largely to him, and to some strong support from Rose Byrne, that Knowing has some backbone to go with its (admittedly, impressive) CGI overload and apocalyptic outlook. Unfortunately, however, he’s not sturdy enough to shoulder the film’s jaw-droppingly bad ending.
Cage is scientist John Koestler, attempting to bring up his young son Caleb alone after the tragic death of his wife. When Caleb’s class opens a school time capsule buried 50 years previously, in it they find a piece of paper strewn with numbers. When John realises that the numbers all correspond to every major disaster of the last 50 years, he becomes obsessed with stopping the events that are still to happen…
For the first two thirds, Knowing is an excellent little chiller. As John runs around trying to decipher the code, his desperation to protect Caleb and his mental vulnerability fuel to fuel the narrative fire and the film moves along at a decent pace. Cage expresses John’s conflicted emotions well, his character effectively drawing the audience through disbelief, realization and sheer terror. And I, Robot director Alex Proyas has the genre experience to know how to handle the story as he slowly widens the focus from John’s personal struggle to survive to a cataclysmic events with global consequences. As such, moments between John and Caleb go side by side with expert effects, including a plane crash sequence that will have you holding your breath.
But then, just when you’re questioning why Knowing got such poor reviews on its theatrical release, comes the denouement, the epic climax which aims for shocking on a super-scale but comes in at utterly preposterous. Part science fiction cliché, part religious crackpotism, it’s genuinely bad enough to cast a shadow over the entire film. It would be laughable, if it wasn’t so damn depressing. 2 stars
Both the DVD and Blu-ray have an enthusiastic commentary from Proyas, in which it’s clear that his ideas just didn’t translate to the big screen. There’s also a making of, plus featurette on apocalyptic visions and trailer. 2 stars
Stars Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne
Director Alex Proya
Distributor E1 Entertainment
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Released August 3