A young girl who hears voices writes a list of numbers on a page which gets locked in her school’s time capsule. 50 years later, the page finds its way into the hands of John Koestler (Nicholas Cage), who quickly determines that the page lists the time, place and number killed for every major disaster around the world in that time. And there are still three that have yet to happen… When Cage witnesses two of the remaining disasters, Knowing begins to ratchet up the insanity with almost reckless abandon. You wonder how far the film will push the story. No matter how crazy you guess, I doubt you’ll manage to be as crazy as the film.
Effectively, Knowing is an M. Night Shyamalan movie, but not by M. Night Shyamalan. Considering exactly how popular M. Night Shyamalan’s movies are right now, you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that making Knowing was either a bold of foolhardy move. But Knowing has an ace up its sleeve that Shyamalan never had – Nicolas Cage.
Cage is ridiculously qualified to play someone who needs to run around on film as the world goes insane, screaming, shouting, punching women in the face dressed as a bear (ok, not in this one, but seriously, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, google The Wicker Man). It’s pretty much all he does any more. I can’t help but feel that casting Nicolas Cage actually constitutes cheating, like casting Samuel L Jackson to play someone cool, or Martin Lawrence as the most irritating man to have ever been born. It’s the bits at the start, before the film goes completely batshit insane, when he needs to play a lonely, grieving widow who is slightly detached from the world that Cage struggles.
Rose Byrne (who never fails to be anything less than superb in the FX TV show Damages) isn’t given a lot to work with here, and is clearly less comfortable with the insanity of the plot than Cage. In fact, you could boil a lot of the entertainment value of Knowing down to being a game in which you try to guess just how far the script is willing to go and how completely at home Cage feels when it gets there.
I feel I should also mention the score, which, while certainly decent musically, so perfectly captures the frantic and incredible insanity of this film that it actually made me laugh at one point. A point which was in no way being played for laughs. In fact, absolutely no part of this film in any way is being played for laughs – to the degree that you begin to suspect that no one involved in its creation is familiar with the concept of humour. This, at least, would explain how a film that deals in the completely preposterous for its entire running time manages to take itself so completely and utterly seriously.
Knowing is complete and total toss from beginning to end, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not massively entertaining, even if it is for reasons other than those intended by the filmmaker. Watch it in a mood to laugh, and you won’t be disappointed. Film: C. Entertainment: A.