Knowing, dir. Alex Proyas, scr. Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, story by Ryne Douglas Pearson, st. Nicholas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury
Before the glossy I, Robot, and the hypnotically surreal Dark City, Alex Proyas made the acclaimed and culty adaptation of the graphic novel The Crow with the late Brandon Lee, but there's nary a trace of that early film's visual flair here. Instead, what we get is a perfectly serviceable extended Twilight Zone episode in which astrophysicist John Koestler (Cage) discovers that a sheet of seemingly random numbers, entombed in a time capsule in 1959 and bequeathed to his son Caleb upon its exhumation 50 years later, may in fact be a code that predicts the precise details of global tragedies, up to and including the end of the world, like a particularly apocalyptic edition of the Radio Times. Again, using real-life catastrophes as a key plot device sometimes leaves an iron taste in the mouth, but there's a brave and rather potent kind of nihilism that runs through the fabric of Proyas' at times hysterical disaster movie. Cage reigns it in for the most part, and there are a few genuinely spooky set-pieces. But Rose Byrne as Diana, the oracle's daughter, plays the kind of spunkless in-peril heroine that's weary to watch, and there's a ropey coda that plays once the inevitable occurs at the film's close, that enrobes a neat resolution in simply horrid CGI.