Director Alex Proyas' Dark City was a creepy and suspenseful sci-fi flick that has become somewhat of a cult film. His latest, Knowing, stars Nicolas Cage as an MIT astrophysics professor, John Koestler, who has raised the question with his studentsof randomism versus determinism. He himself thinks that stuff happens, although stuff isn't the word he uses.
John's wife died in a fire, leaving him with a good son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), to raise. John is out of sorts much of the time and overprotective of his son. Then Caleb brings home a letter with a string of seemingly random numbers on it, written 50 years before by a young girl and recently unearthed from a time capsule.
Like everyone else, John thinks the writing is gibberish, but a random happenstance allows him to recognize that a group of those numbers, 09112001, corresponds to Sept. 11, and he soon realizes that major disasters — natural and unnatural — of the past 50 years have been predicted in this letter. This revelation shakes John's lack of beliefs, and after another of the predictions comes true, he sets out to find out about the girl who wrote the letter.
Questions of God and the possibilities of others in the universe get played out against a backdrop of doom. There is always a certain fascination in such stories. How much do we know, see, hear? (Caleb wears a hearing aid and picks up things most people can't.) Merging sci-fi with philosophy is always tricky and most times becomes silly.
Proyas doesn't avoid all the pitfalls but does better than most, and Knowing is an honest effort and should be given credit for that.
Knowing is $26.99 on DVD and $34.99 on Blu-ray.