Fifty years ago in 1959, one girl, Lucinda (Lara Robinson) won a competition which involved her idea of burying a time capsule in the grounds of the school she attended, containing messages and drawings from her class to give to the children of the future. However, when it came time for her to add her sheet of paper to the contents, she scribbled out a long series of numbers on both sides; bemused, her teacher allowed it into the capsule anyway, but the day that it was to be buried Lucinda went missing. After a long search, she was found in a cupboard with bleeding fingers, and there was obviously something not quite right about her: something for 2009 to mull over...
But they had better do their mulling quickly, as according to this there was a cataclysm on its way, although you'll be relieved to learn the date the film offers for this event has passed. But an effort like Knowing went to prove that the whole apocalypse idea was one which had so much power from the turn of the millennium that some people - some movie makers, in fact, were exceedingly reluctant to allow it to pass, and even after the year 2000 they were still churning out the end of the world stories almost as if they actually wanted the world to end, and the more spectacularly this occured the better.
Our man navigating this minefield of doomsday prophecy was Nicolas Cage, playing a college lecturer in Massachussets called John Koestler, a widower who lives in a ginormous house out in the woods with his partially deaf son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury). There's much of the male bonding through the troubled waters about their relationship, but the hints that this is going to pay us back in ladling on the sentiment sooner or later are not fanciful, even if the rest of the film is. When the time capsule is dug up, unlike the Blue Peter one the contents are not muddy and soggy and would have been better off hidden in a cupboard all those years, no, they are all intact and Caleb gets the sheet of numbers that Lucinda wrote out.
He is intrigued in spite of his classmates getting an apparently better deal when they got nice pictures, but after he's taken it home for future study that night, John finds himself fascinated when he realises that all those numbers were a code. But a code for what? A bit of digging around and informed deduction reveals that some numbers refer to a date, others the amount of people killed in a disaster on that date, and more the location on a map of where the event took place. But there are still three sets of figures that have yet to come to pass, and John now worries that he is in possession of the key to divining impending disasters, for that's what this is, the equivalent of a disaster movie made popular in the seventies.
Except while something like The Poseidon Adventure wore its religion in the form of allusions that would not divert you if you had not spotted them, here it was forced down your throat with the zeal of a space brothers cult who had predicted their own armageddon and were keen to drag us all down with them. Fortunately Knowing was fiction, but it gives the impression that the filmmakers had a little too much faith in their prophesying, and by the end you feel you're not getting a science fiction spectacle so much as the kind of work that should be accompanied by a pamphlet and a promise of a lecture to attend afterwards to relieve you of more cash, all in the service of their supreme being of course. It's hard to ignore this objectionable would-be spiritual aspect, so even while director Alex Proyas stages an impressive plane crash and inevitable destruction to follow, the fact that it exploits this kind of material does it no favours. And neither does the soporific pace, for that matter. Music by Marco Beltrami.
Egyptian-born director who grew up in Australia and directed dozens of high-profile music videos and commercials during the 1980s. Proyas's feature debut was the low-budget Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds, but it was 1994's The Crow that brought him mainstream success and introduced his dark, stylish take on sci-fi and fantasy. Dark City was a futuristic film noir, while the Asimov-inspired I, Robot was one of 2004's biggest hits and Knowing an effects-filled addition to the popular apocalypse cycle. Also directed the Australian rock comedy Garage Days and much-lambasted fantasy flop Gods of Egypt, which caused him to have a public meltdown.