In 1959 a troubled young schoolgirl compulsively writes down a series of numbers, which is then buried in a time capsule. 50 years later, the time capsule is dug up and the series of numbers find their way to Astrophysicist Professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage). John believes that life is random and his explanation for why things happen the way they do is, “Shit just happens”. So it’s particularly startling for John when he starts to realise that the series of numbers includes the dates of various disasters plus the number of people who died in each disaster. How is John supposed to respond to the events that are yet to come? What happens when the numbers run out? Who are the mysterious guys who look like members of a 1980s New Romantic band who have been injected with Rutger Hauer’s DNA?
Knowing is one of the dumbest films audiences are likely to see this year. It is one of those films where 20 minutes in you have that sinking realisation that it is a dud but by the time it finally ends you are genuinely astounded by just how absurd it became. It is a horribly plodding film with over explanatory dialogue that assumes the audience are stupid and need every single detail spelled out. It would be very depressing if this type of filmmaking became a trend in order to cater to audiences who are only half watching a film because they are distracted by their Blackberries and visits to the candy bar.
There are three main special effect sequences in Knowing and admittedly the first one is really impressive. It depicts a spectacular plan crash and it is a moment of real dread and grit. The other special effect scenes though, are so obviously created by computers that they resemble computer games. Even the plane crash scene goes just that little too long so you do notice the CGIed fire and you do feel that the film is a little too gleeful in its depiction of death and carnage.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that Australian director Alex Proyas was responsible for the brilliantly stylistic The Crow (1994) and the outstanding Dark City (1998). These were bold, original and hugely entertaining films but since then Proyas has done little of interest. I, Robot (2004) was quite good but forgettable, however Garage Days (2002) and now Knowing are very poor films. Nicholas Cage is also making it very hard for audiences to take him seriously as an actor. His work from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s was mostly extremely impressive but since then he has increasingly drifted towards giving hammy performances that come close to unintentional self-ridicule. Knowing is possibly his worst performance to date. Shot in Melbourne, Knowing also features several Australian actors in minor roles, including Rose Byrne and Ben Mendelsohn, but they have little opportunity to bring anything to redeem this film.