Friday, April 2, 2010


What if you knew ahead of time that a disaster was about to happen?  What if there was nothing you could do about it?  The concept is as old as the Cassandra complex from Greek mythology.  In Knowing, a few people are given a sort of foreknowledge of major catastrophes.  One of them goes mad.

Professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) teaches astrophysics at MIT.  When his son's class opens up the school's time capsule, most of the kids get cute letters and pictures from their predecessors at the school.  John's son gets a page covered with an indecipherable series of numbers.  That is, indecipherable until the discerning professor notices "91101" followed by the number of victims of the 9/11 attacks.  He then stays up all night connecting the numbers to dates and victims, then figures out that longitude and latitude are included as well.

John becomes obsessed with saving some people from the disasters he sees coming up in the numbers.  His wife had actually died in one of the events in the numbers, so he wants to save who he can. As Cassandra could have told him, his efforts would be fruitless.  But there are some very exciting, well-done sequences--a plane crash, and a subway crash. 

John's son is haunted by some creepy-looking guys with black rocks.  The creepy guys' identity, and the ulitmate purpose for the numerical revelation and the resolution of the disasters, is an ultimate deus ex machina which seemed completely misplaced.  And we learn what Ezekiel was talking about when he describes "wheels within wheels" (Ezekiel 1:15-17).

Late in the movie we learn that John's father, from whom he is estranged, is a pastor.  John has left his father, and his faith, but in the end we see him return to his father and, in his father's arms, seemingly returns to his faith.  While John has been frantic about preventing disaster and saving people, his father trusts God to save and protect him and his family, even in the face of doom.  It took John a long time to learn that lesson, but ultimately he did.

Bottom line, 2 stars.

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