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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Unlucky Numbers
by Betty Jo Tucker

I have a love/hate relationship with Nicolas Cage and his movies. Cage’s work comes across as either very, very good or very, very bad -- and the same goes for the films he chooses. There’s no middle ground. Sadly, Knowing falls in the negative category, just a tad above The Wicker Man. It’s definitely not on the same level as Leaving Las Vegas or Lord of War -- or even the National Treasure franchise. Among the most troubling elements of Knowing are its dark cinematography and outlandish plot. Because Cage is forced to deal with such serious problems, perhaps I shouldn’t blame him for a less-than-memorable performance here.    

As a single father still mourning the death of his wife, John Koestler (Cage) realizes he’s not doing the greatest job raising his pre-teen son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury). He’s not always on time for Caleb’s school events, and his interactions with the boy often seem  perfunctory. But John loves Caleb dearly, which becomes evident during the world-shaking crisis they must face together. One fateful day, Caleb receives a sheet of paper placed inside a time capsule at his school 50 years ago, and numbers are scrawled across the page without any rhyme or reason. However, John soon discovers an alarming pattern: the numbers represent the dates, times and casualties of various disasters -- and some of the catastrophes haven’t even happened yet.

While John, a cynical astrophysicist, searches for answers concerning why he and his son are involved in working through this cosmic puzzle, the two meet Diane (the lovely Rose Byrne, looking even more gloomy than usual) -- daughter of the student who wrote the numbers in the time capsule -- and Abby (Lara Robinson), Diane’s daughter. Of course, Diane and Abby become important to John and Caleb, who start to believe this mother and daughter may also be destined to play key roles in the upcoming disaster.

Is there any way to prevent the final prediction of the numbers from coming to pass? If so, how? What’s up with those whispering voices? Who are the mysterious strangers following our heroes? And why is it so hard to care? 

M. Night Shyamalan’s similar The Happening managed to hold my interest to a much greater degree than this thriller did. Not being a fan of darkly filmed sequences, I couldn’t decipher what was happening in Knowing during too many scenes -- so I found myself wishing the movie would just hurry up and end.            

(Released by Summit Entertainment and rated “PG-13” for disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language.)

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