In Knowing, it seems as if director Alex Proyas decided to get all the mystical questions about life, combine them with one heck of an amazing plane crash, a scorcher of a train wreck, several car chases (but the meaningful life and death kind, mind you), a handful of improbabilities and put them in a blender to see if it would all blend.
Well, it sure does, and even takes a few unnecessary – but stunning – detours into Spielbergland and Armageddonville for good measure.
"People see what they want to see with numbers," says John Koestler’s (Nicolas Cage) good friend and fellow MIT professor after Koestler shows him a page full of numbers that he believes contain all the catastrophes of the world.
His friend would just assume Koestler chased after a woman he knows with double D’s, but our man would rather drink himself silly while taking care of his precocious son and mourning his wife who passed away in a fire the year before (that’s on that page of numbers too BTW). Koestler comes across the numbers after his son picked them up out of a 50-year-old time capsule at his school. And wouldn’t you know it – the possessed girl who originally made the list is now dead.
But these are digressions – or developments, depending on your point of view – in a lengthy story that begins by meekly raising the issue of whether life is random or predetermined, then rushes forward as Koestler tries to prevent whatever human catastrophes remain on that sheet of his.
He’ll also conveniently meet the girl’s grown up daughter (another fine turn by Rose Byrne) and before you can figure out how many films the screenwriters have creatively rifled through in a bid to capture today’s zeitgeist (Final Destination, The Number 23, Armageddon, oh my), the duo are trying to stay one step ahead of the creepy, mysterious men who look like they emerged from an icy 80s German dance band video.
Cage, for his part, has a haunted look that seems as though he’s been poring over the box office returns of Bangkok Dangerous. Yet he’s believable, like much of this film, even though the brain is screaming "What a load of…" you know what.