Apocalyptic sci-fi thrillers are supposed to be thought-provoking and supernaturally suspenseful but this is just paranormally dopey.
In 1958, as part of the dedication ceremony for a new elementary school in Massachusetts, a group of students is asked to draw pictures of what they envision for the future. Their artwork will be sealed in a time capsule and stored for a half-century. But one creepy little girl, Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson), scribbles rows of numbers which she says are being relayed into her mind.
In 2008, a new generation of students examines the time capsule’s contents. Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury) shows the girl’s cryptic numbers to his widower M.I.T. astrophysicst dad, John (Nicolas Cage), who, fueled by whiskey, freaks out. The encoded message predicts the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major cataclysm of the past 50 years with astonishing accuracy, plus there are three additional catastrophes waiting to happen, perhaps global destruction. Unable to get anyone in authority to take him seriously, John maniacally enlists the help of prophetic Lucinda Embry’s troubled daughter Diana (Rose Byrne of “Damages”) and granddaughter Abby (Lara Robinson, again) in an attempt to prevent the calamities. Meanwhile, four ominous, unearthly men with shiny blond hair seem to be observing everything.
Stuffed with too little structure and too many cloying clichés by screenwriters Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden and Stiles White, it’s additionally hampered by Alex Proyas’ (“Dark City,” “The Crow”) overwrought, if atmospheric direction. While the two major disaster sequences, featuring a subway and an airliner, are well photographed by Simon Duggan with admirable CG effects, their emotional effect is minimal. And the allegorical, “X-Files”-like conclusion ineptly attempts to fuse a religious parable based on Christianity’s Book of Revelations and the Rapture with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Knowing” is a weird, far-fetched 4. Knowing the future is one thing, changing it is another. Or, as someone next to me, muttered, “It’s a duh-saster.”