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Knowing Me, Knowing You

Alex Proyas’ new movie “Knowing” descends on cinemas next week. It stars Nicolas Cage, which should give you an idea of what to expect…yeah…

A few years ago, there was a script floating around Hollywood, passing the desks of several producers, directors and actors. It was a script heavy with paranoia, about the imminent end of the world, deeply intertwined with the main character’s crisis of faith, a concerned father struggling to save his family and unravel a mystery against insurmountable odds. Years later, this film arrived in cinemas: it was called “Signs.”

Plot similarities weighing heavily between both films, “Knowing” is Nicolas Cage’s latest outing, this time in the role of John Koestler (a character much like every other Cage character from the last ten years), a college professor whose son Caleb (Canterbury) is given a list of numbers as part of a school project involving a time capsule from fifty years previously. John becomes increasingly convinced that the numbers are portentous signs, the dates and death tolls of disasters that will lead to the end of the world, and sets out to prevent the disasters.

“Knowing” treads on uncomfortable ground from the beginning, namely because of the mystery that it creates, part “The Da Vinci Code” and part “Close Encounters,” never quite sure of whether it wants to be all out science-fiction or merely take some supernatural elements to add even more mystery. When it finally decides how to resolve its mystery, it plants itself firmly in the realm of science fiction, a decision that merely serves to undermine any personal interest in the movie up to this point. Director Proyas does what he can to capture both elements of the script, but falls similarly flat, in much the same way as his last movie “I, Robot” never really managed to turn away from Will Smith to focus on the bigger picture.

Cage’s portrayal of Koestler is surprisingly likeable, enough of Cage’s typical over-the-top to keep it familiar, but toned down enough to prevent him from alienating too many viewers. Yet the movie manages to do that all by itself. If you’re prepared to fully immerse yourself in a science fiction movie trying to pass itself off as a thriller, maybe you’ll survive “Knowing.” Otherwise, you’ll probably walk out of the cinema wishing you were nothing more than a number on a death toll rather than having to sit through it.

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