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Knowing

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Knowing -   Numbers Add Up To Gripping, Sci Fi Thriller

Are events predetermined or do they happen randomly?  As one of the greatest mysteries of the universe, that question has been the subject of philosophical debates throughout the ages.  Suppose you were given the knowledge of future events such as those pertaining to the death of a loved one, or of a more far reaching consequence - global disasters.  Is there a chance that you could do something to prevent it?  Would it make a difference or could your actions actually play an important part in the scheme of things, aka, the big picture.  Would the forewarned knowledge be a blessing or a burden?  We may never know the answers. Knowing builds on those ideas within an intriguing storyline that combines science fiction with religious/spiritual overtones and offers a different twist to the usual disaster movie genre.

The opening scene takes place in a Massachusetts elementary school class in 1959.  The assignment for each student in the class is to draw a picture of what they predict the future will be like and have it placed in a time capsule to be dug up fifty years later.

Fast forward to the present.   Nicolas Cage (in top form) is introduced as John Koestler, a professor of astro physics at MIT and widower raising his young son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) alone. Having lost his faith since his wife died in a hotel fire, the disheartened man is of the mindset that the only way to explain the tragedy is that “shi-t happens”.  At least, that is what John tells his class when voicing his opinion on determinism as opposed to random chaos.

Back at his son’s elementary school, the capsule containing sealed envelopes with messages for present day students has been unearthed. Caleb brings his note home, and upon taking a close look, his father discovers something strange. No words or drawings are found in the message. There are just rows and rows of what appears to be random numbers written on a single piece of paper by a haunted little girl, Lucinda (Lara Robinson) five decades earlier.  Drawn to finding out its meaning, John begins to see a pattern in the numbers, starting with 9112996 which he deciphers as the date of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center followed by the number of victims. Soon he is able to decode each set of numbers and, to his horror, finds that they reveal predictions of the actual date, time and location of a series of global disasters that has happened through the years and a few more that have yet to take place.

Meanwhile, Caleb begins to hear strange whispering voices all speaking at once which is followed by a visit of a shadowy, silent male figure (credits list him as the Stranger) dressed in black (D.G. Maloney) who hands him a small shiny black rock and points to the bedroom window where an outside vision reveals a horrific burning forest and escaping wildlife in flames.

Who is this mysterious person and how does he figure into what appears to be a doomsday scenario?  I refuse to be a spoiler. What I can tell you is that John sets out to find the woman who, as a schoolgirl, was driven beyond her control to write the numerical messages.  She is no longer alive, but eventually John is able to connect with and enlist the aid of her daughter, Diana (Rose Byrne) herself a single parent with a young child, Abby (also played by Lara Robinson).

Knowing with certainty the date and whereabouts of two impending catastrophes, John sets out on a desperate race against time to try and stop them from happening but winds up as a witness to the very events he is unable to prevent.

Director Alex Proyas (the Crow, Dark City, I Robot) aptly creates a dark and gloomy atmosphere tinged with black and brown hues and sets up a suspenseful and chilling scenario with action scenes that are fabulously executed.  The horrendous plane crash and subway disaster are spectacular with special effects that are visually dazzling and so realistic they will tear into your gut. For their amazing impact, they stand out as the best thing about the movie and should be remembered at Oscar time next year. They are that awesome!

As for my overall opinion of the film, I was mesmerized by the unfolding storyline.  As a gripping, action filled, sci fi thriller it held my attention from beginning to end.  Whether you find it moving, depressing, or a revelation, Knowing is bound to take you on an emotional journey that leaves you with something to think about. That is not a prediction. It is a knowing.

Feedback is welcome.