After our review of Left Behind (2014), we felt like subjecting ourselves to another helping of Nicolas Cage, this time in the form of 2009 sci-fi thriller Knowing.
From the moment it opens, Knowing blasts an unexpectedly incredible score, courtesy of composer Marco Beltrami. It might seem a little odd, given the movie’s undoubtedly forgettable nature, but Knowing‘s score is able to elevate the movie far beyond the sum of its parts, lending a remarkable sense of atmosphere to scenes that would otherwise be uninspiring.
Opening in 1959 with a disturbed child putting a series of seemingly random numbers into a time capsule, Knowing soon jumps 50 years ahead to widower John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) and his son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), when the capsule is opened. Koestler soon becomes obsessed with the numbers, realising that they have predicted every large-scale disaster on Earth for the past five decades – and there’s three more events on the list still to come.
Being framed against Koestler’s position as an astrophysics professor as well as his grief over losing his wife, Knowing sets out with a decided amount of promise, as well as an indication that the movie might explore a genuinely scientific approach to the usually psuedo-scientific at best genre of disaster movies.
Unfortunately, Knowing soon veers off at a sharp angle, and Koestler’s obsession sees him cross paths with single mother Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne) and daughter Abby (Lara Robinson). Byrne delivers the movie’s standout performance, although both of Knowing‘s young leads are also fairly consistent in their respective roles.
While Cage was surely cast for his propensity at bringing obsession to life, he spends much of Knowing delivering his lines in a flat, mumbled monotone and drinking himself into a stupor. It does seem fairly in-keeping with Koestler’s character, but it feels as though the professor was written to be as unremarkable as possible, and an actor of Cage’s capablities is drastically underutilised in a such a bland role.
This is mirrored in the movie’s visual effects: they’re passable, but they’re not impressive. In fact, Knowing is a movie that forces its audience to walk the line between excitement and disappointment for much of its two hour runtime, owing in no small part to its story’s identity crisis.
Summary: Knowing is entertaining throughout, and is able to build just enough suspense to keep its audience engaged until the final credits, but it’s well and truly average in almost every sense of the word.