Knowing

Nicolas Cage movies generally fall into in two categories: intentionally funny (Raising Arizona), and unintentionally funny (The Wicker Man). However, Knowingis neither of these. Knowing uses Cage as a regular actor to portray a regular guy...and that, my friends, the least entertaining path to take.

It all begins with in 1959 with a Wednesday Adams look-alike (the painfully cute Laura Robinson), withsad eyes and a large forehead, looking very worried. When her teacher presents a time capsule project for her class, the girl hears voices (of course) telling her to write down a series of numbers, instead of drawing the future like she was told.

Fifty years later, physics professor Johnathan Koestler’s (Cage) smarter-than-average (read: amazingly argumentative) son Caleb (Chandler Cantebury) gets the numbers, and things start getting nuts. Koestler figures that a lot of the numbers are the dates and body counts for natural disasters,but he’s not sure what the other numbers mean... yet.

By now we’re expecting a classic Nic Cage style freak-out ("HOW'D IT GET BURNED!?! "), and instead we're disappointed by him actually doing a rather decent job with a well-realized character. Koestler and his son have a strained relationship, as his wife died in a hotel fire, and naturally they both miss her dearly. They never talk about things like “emotions” outside of a painfully sweet exchange in sign language exchange, being men and all.

Koestler throws himself into trying to solve the mystery using the "Single Barrel" Research Method, which involves crawling into a bottle and watching the newsfor any headlines matching the numerical pattern.  After doing this all night, he sleeps through a whole day and wakes up to his son calling, saying he has afternoon car-pool. CRAP! Off he goes to get stuck in highway traffic, still contemplating what all the numbers mean when he realizes, after looking at his GPS, those other numbers are map coordinates: latitude and longitude...like the one he’s on right NOW. A few seconds afterthis realization, a 747 crashes,dipping its wing into the Earths’ crust and cutting a trench through that very highway.

Koestler tries in vain to help these people, and we still don't get that freak out we've been waiting for! His next step is to seek out Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne), the daughter of Worried Wednesday from the opening. She too has a daughter (Robinson again). Koestler tries to get Wayland to open up about her dead crazy mother and reveal the secret to life, the universe, and everything.

The exchange begins poorly, of course, but later they hit it off just in time for Koestler to figure out that there’s a massive Solar flare heading for Earth and everyone’s going to die unless. . . well, nothing. You can’t really stop the sun from reducing the Earth to a heavy metal album cover, but the movie still has forty-five minutes to go. What happens is a half interesting, half Deus-Ex Machina-but with a fiercely depressing twist.

Overall, this movie suffers from a case of “Not Quite Enough-itis.” While director Alex Proyas (I, Robot , Dark City ) is not short on directing skill or adorable brunettes in various stages of life, the plot is pretty much "figure out the code, realizeit's hopeless and do NOT give us a Nicolas Cage Freakout in spite of this."  It’s competent enough, but asks heavy questions and presents some crazily optimistic answers, playing it fairly straight the entire time with no zany antics and few ludicrous moments. As such, it might not work for a Cavalcade, so go with NeXt instead.