Knowing - DVD review

3 out of 5
£19.99

For

The action sequences are powerful and striking, more humanised than traditional Hollywood fare thanks to its subject matter

Against

There are a few elements and clues along the way that feel like they should be tied up, but are left hanging. Oh, and there are some god-awful parenting techniques on display

If it was possible to be down on a massive multi-million pound venture that hundreds of people spent months pouring their heart and soul into on the basis of a mere eight-word sentence, then I was only too glad to give it a go.

"What happens when all the numbers run out?" Illogical, maddening and ridiculous, that tagline also failed to sell or big up anything about the film.

Those posters for Knowing featuring that very collection of letters couldn’t have put me off the film any more. Seriously, it could have had Mexican midget wrestlers dancing on Jim Davidson’s gonads and I wouldn’t have been interested. Then part of me realised it may have been intended as a genius unanswerable Zen koan, up there with "the sound of one hand clapping", then I calmed down a bit.

Then I actually watched Knowing, things fell into place and a void grew where once hate flourished.

Knowing is a curious beast – a wannabe philosophical disaster movie, packed with modern horror stylings and CGI carnage, yet curiously short on all-American heroism and fireworks we’ve come to take for granted.

Widowed and strung out, science teacher John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) is discussing the idea of causality versus fate with his students, leaving them in no doubt that he doesn’t believe there’s a grand scheme of things.

A few days later his young son Caleb brings home an artefact retrieved from a 50-year-old time capsule just excavated at his school – a simple piece of paper covered in a long string of numbers.

Drunk and on one, Koestler takes an interest in the digits – even more so when he becomes convinced that it contains the date September 11 2001 and the exact death toll from the attack.

Frenzied research manages link the numbers on the page with every major disaster of the past 50 years – with the exception of three sets of numbers that are worryingly unaccounted for. As a terrible plane crash seems to confirm the theory that it holds the secret to future catastrophes, the race is on to try to convince everyone and help avert further loss of life. The key to this is tracking down the mysterious and troubled child who put the paper into the time capsule all those years ago before it’s all too late.

Verdict

Disaster movies have done big business for Hollywood for a few years now, but none of them have packed the same punch as Knowing. Strangely downbeat in its outlook, it curiously and arguably crassly draws on the fears and suffering caused by real-life tragedies to try to tell its story, while exploring an approach to the world that’s paid too much attention to the noodlings of David Icke and M Night Shyamalan.

But for all that, Knowing is still a fresh take on a blockbuster – choosing not to take the easy or most palatable route to the end credits. It won’t be to everybody’s liking, but is intriguing enough to take a punt on.

Rating: 15
Starring: Nicolas Cage.
Directed by: Alex Proyas

Extras: featurette (single disc reviewed).