Review of Knowing

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Nicolas Cage stars in this 2009 science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas. His character of John Koestler is a widowed MIT astrophysicist who discovers that a piece of paper from a time capsule contains the dates and locations of major disasters from both the past and present. Chandler Canterbury plays the role of John's son Caleb.
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Movie Review: "Knowing"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes
Release Date: March 20, 2009
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Director Alex Proyas is no stranger to the science fiction genre. His credits include "I, Robot," "The Crow," and "Dark City." In "Knowing," he once again takes viewers on an interesting ride that straddles the line between real life and reel life.

"Knowing" opens in 1959 with a young girl named Lucinda. After hearing an odd series of numbers being whispered in her ears, she writes down the code and places it inside a time capsule. The film then jumps to 2009 when students in the school prepare to open the same time capsule. Jonathon Koestler (Nicholas Cage, "The Rock" and "Ghost Rider") is a widower with a young son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury, "Repo Men"), who attends the school.

Caleb opens the time capsule and finds the note left by Lucinda. After Jonathon sees the note, he realizes that there is a code hidden among the numbers. Ignoring his son, he figures out the code and discovers that it gives the exact locations and dates of major events, including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He also discovers that the code warns against three more upcoming events.

Things get even stranger when odd figures appear to Caleb that same night. They show him a vision of a bleak and dark world and leave him with an unusual stone before disappearing. Caleb didn't tell his father, who is still on a mission, about it. Jonathon finds Diana (Rose Byrne, "X-Men: First Class," "Bridesmaids"), the daughter of the girl from the beginning. She and her daughter Abby (Lara Robinson, "Saved") agree to help him on his mission, though both express some fear and disbelief. Lucinda eventually admits that her mother heard voices for years and that her mother even knew the exact day and time when she would die.

The small group sets off on a trip to Lucinda's former home, hoping to find a solution to their problem. The same mysterious figures keep appearing to the children, begging them to come with them. The film continues down this path, adding more mysterious elements that leave viewers wondering what will happen to the main characters.

"Knowing" is the rare type of sci-fi film that leads viewers to question their surroundings. After watching the film, some might go home and begin looking for unusual rocks and symbols in their own homes. The film might also lead some to question the effects that their daily activities have on the environment.

The film has elements that everyone can relate to, from a single parent struggling to raise his son while holding down a job to the young woman still recovering from the relationship she shared with her mother. When Diana finally tells Jonathon about growing up with her mother, viewers will find themselves drawing a connection to their own parental relationships.

There are several suspenseful and even terrifying moments in the film, including one involving an airplane. When the plane drops out of the sky and heads towards the ground, many people will find themselves looking away from the screen. The pain of the people on board, combined with the darkness of the scene, is almost too much. Several scenes in the film seem to push the boundaries of what many people find comfortable.

Proyas has no problem pushing those boundaries, though. He introduces the characters in a way that gets the audience involved in their lives. Viewers root for the characters and want them to find happiness or escape the evil creatures. In one scene, Proyas rips away that feeling by removing one much-loved character from the film.

The highlights of the movie come from the actors themselves. Byrne is one of the best because she expresses a multitude of emotions. Viewers will believe her in the beginning when she wants nothing to do with Jonathon, but they can also believe her when she gets caught up in his journey. The only downside is Cage, because he plays a character that seems too similar to roles he played in the past.

"Knowing" will also leave some unanswered questions in the minds of viewers. Some might find themselves wondering how he decoded the message so quickly or how an unemployed man can live in such a large and beautiful home. Questions also arise about the mysterious figures, their connection to Lucinda, and why they waited so long to offer any real help.

While "Knowing" does have a few minor flaws, those flaws do not take away from the viewing experience. "Knowing" is a solid sci-fi movie with strong acting from adults and children, exciting sets, and a story that will stick in the minds of viewers.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars