Knowing (2009)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Lara Robinson

Directed by: Alex Proyas

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Nicolas Cage does the maths in Knowing

My oh my, what a very strange movie. Admittedly you wouldn't expect anything that springs from the haunted imagination of The Crow/Dark City director Alex Proyas to be run-of-the-mill, but this muddled sci-fi/horror/disaster movie melange is trying a bit too hard to be break down genre boundaries and just ends up a bit of a mess.

Knowing starts off like a straightforward horror flick, with hollow-eyed spooky child Lucinda desperately scribbling down seemingly-random numbers whispered to her on the wind. Fast-forward fifty years and her creepy contribution to the school time capsule is unearthed and opened by Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury), son of widowed cosmology professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage). And once the eagle-eyed don spots the combination 9/11/2001 followed by the number of casualties that day, it doesn't take him long to figure out that all the numbers refer to mass disasters… and three have yet to take place…

Chandler Canterbury as Caleb in Knowing

Next thing we know, we've hit action movie territory running, as our hero races to prevent the next round of deaths. Oh no, we're in the X-Files, as Caleb is stalked by a silent brood of smooth-faced 'whispering people'. But wait! The final numbers refer to a Deep Impact-style extinction level event and there's mass panic and looting in the streets! And Close Encounters aliens! And a scene that looks like an upmarket car advert with a Beethoven soundtrack! And a somewhat risible Matrix Revolutions ending that could herald either a new Eden or a Lord of the Flies-style massacre. Oh shoot, I'm confused.

That's not to say that this is a bad movie. It's pretty gripping, suspenseful and exciting, and if you liked The Mothman Prophecies and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still but found them a bit lacking in action, then this could be the film for you. But it is unfocused and, in trying to create something new, seems only to rehash old ground in random, unexpected ways. Sadly, adding lots of genres together does not equal a five-star movie.

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