Unlike so many unenlightened scientists and rationalists, do you have faith? Or, if you don’t have faith, do you at least think that you should, and that faith is a virtue? If so, you might like the premise behind Nicholas Cage’s new film, Knowing.
Cage’s character, John, has recently been widowed, and he and his son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), are still mourning her loss. We learn early on that John, a man of science, doesn’t believe in heaven, or even in—gasp!—God. Then a page full of mysterious numbers falls into his possession: A troubled little girl scrawled them out in 1959; they’ve been locked away in a time capsule ever since. When John looks carefully at the numbers, he notes a terrible sense of logic to them: They make specific references to the dates of past disasters — 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, any number of plane crashes and train derailments — and John fears they may point to future catastrophes as well. Can he stop these tragedies? Will he regain his faith? And will he meet a cute babe — one played by Rose Byrne — in the interim?
Ooh. Scary numerology. Do you believe? And why-oh-why must the numbers always be related to catastrophes? Can’t the universe next door ever hand out nice numbers—like the date that gay marriage becomes legal in California—and not just the numbers of the devil?:
[Director Alex] Proyas (“I, Robot”) makes sure we get to see a good selection of massive disasters, including a plane crash in which victims, burning to death, scream in pain. There’s also a wildfire in which assorted moose, deer and bears — also in flames, and clearly suffering — stampede in fear. But hey, it’s all CGI, so who cares? And it’s all in the service of a greater idea: We must have Faith, with a capital F.
Sure a lot of people and animals die apocalyptically and senselessly. But that’s not what’s important. What really counts here is that Cage’s character discovers the lameness of his reason and his powerlessness before the mysterious forces at work in the universe, and so embraces faith and mysticism. That gives this film its happy ending.
And that is a happy ending, isn’t it?