- Released Internationally on 19/03/09
- Released in Malta by KRS on 22/04/09
In 1959, during the inauguration of a new primary school in Boston, USA, a time capsule is buried containing student impressions of what the future will look like. Fifty years later, it is opened, and amongst the drawings of spaceships and robots, one of the submissions stands out. A sheet of paper filled to the corners with numbers, the odd artwork falls into the hands of the son of an astrophysics lecturer, who eventually starts to realize that the numbers have a chilling significance.
Starting off innocently enough, the film soon starts to show its supernatural side during the prologue. Lucinda, a socially isolated girl in the new school, starts to act strangely, and then frantically scribbles down the seemingly random sequence of numbers when asked to prepare an entry for the time capsule. Fast-forwarding to present day, we're introduced to a father-son family still getting to grips with the tragic loss of the woman in their life. When the time capsule contents are handed out during the son's school anniversary, he gets Lucinda's cryptic entry, but only later does his father stumble upon a possible meaning for the numbers. Despite the interesting and intriguing fantastical element, the film remains largely grounded in reality for the first two acts, but then veers off into more traditional science fiction and disaster-movie scenarios.
Nicolas Cage carries the film on his shoulders and is possibly the only actor you'll recognize from the entire cast. He continues to do fine work in various different projects, fitting convincingly into very different roles. His average-guy appearance and unconventional persona allows him to slip easily into the shoes of scientists, hitmen, comic heroes or neurotic losers, as the films may require. He does a more than serviceable job here, juggling his role as father, scientist and potential saviour, and remains intense and focused in the face of an increasingly incredulous worldwide scenario.
Director Alex Proyas (The Crow, I, Robot) has managed to infuse his few films with a very distinct look and feel. The ominous characters that Lucinda sees in the shadows, and who fifty years later return to haunt her descendants, are reminiscent of the iconic 'strangers' in his wonderful 1998 offering Dark City. Apart from directing, he also contributed to the screenplay and production, and manages to meld low-key eeriness with grand-scale disaster. Some of the earlier visual effects are a bit scratchy by today's high standards, but the film's finale contains scenes that any disaster-movie would be proud of. The scenes of chaos that ensue after a plane crash and towards the end are particularly memorable and emotionally charged.
Ultimately, the premise of the movie is more interesting and promising than the end result. The prologue and its reprise in present day offer a supernatural concept that has a spark of originality amongst today's countless similar films. And in the hands of Proyas and Cage, it remains believable and enjoyable, and very entertaining. Finding a satisfying conclusion proves to be more of a challenge, and the overall pace and feel of the film are lost towards the end, with a conclusion that may disappoint. Still, the film deserves special mention amidst today's countless disaster movies and supernatural thrillers for managing to juggle the two elements successfully, and not opting for any easy, predictable ending. It also poses an interesting question - is it worth knowing when tragedy will strike, if there's nothing you can do about it?
http://www.apple.com/trailers/summit/knowing/ (High-res quicktime)