Knowing Parent Guide
Mixing suspense and action, the film eventually wanders off into more philosophical realms. It becomes a convoluted concoction of scientific calculations, new ageism and Biblical references.
Parent Movie Review
Nicolas Cage seems to have found a niche role in the movies as the man who can unlock codes (National Treasure, National Treasure: Book of Secrets) or see into the future (Next). Now he’s combined those two abilities in the film Knowing, where he plays John Koestler, a professor of scientific theories at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
When a 50-year-old time capsule is unearthed at the elementary school his son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) attends, the students and teachers find envelopes containing amateur, artistic predictions of the future. Yet the envelope Caleb receives is different. Written in a childish scrawl are rows and rows of presumably arbitrary numbers.
The paper intrigues John, a man who drinks excessively every night to deal with the recent death of his wife. Following a supposedly random act, his attention is drawn to a specific set of numbers on the page. Whether his inebriated state helps or not, John discovers a pattern among the digits that coincides with the dates and death tolls of major worldwide disasters from the past five decades. With chilling clarity, John also recognizes information about impending calamities and tries to warn the innocent victims. Among them are Diana (Rose Byrne) and Abby Wayland (Lara Robinson), the daughter and granddaughter of the somber schoolgirl (also played by Lara Robinson) who scribbled the mysterious figures.
But as John tries to explain his finding to a skeptical colleague (Ben Mendelsohn), his son Caleb is haunted by the frequent whisper of voices that only he seems able to hear. Several ominous, black-clad figures also show up unannounced at Caleb’s school, in his bedroom or lurking in the forest outside of the Koestler’s remote country home.
John’s obsession to break the code is intriguing and understandable for a man whose scientific and religious beliefs about the purpose of life have been called into question by his bereavement. However, the violent depictions of these tragedies are often excessive. Stunned passengers, many engulfed in flames, stumble away from the burning wreckage of a plane after it crashes into a field in front of hundreds of stalled motorists. Later an out-of-control train slams through the subway, mowing down hoards of bystanders, crushing numerous commuters and sending a rush of debris and dust wafting up from the underground passage. Those depictions, combined with brutal car crashes, terrorists’ threats and a kidnapping, all prove to be unsettling.
Mixing suspense and action, the film eventually wanders off into more philosophical realms as it tries to explain the meaning behind the prophecies. But the account becomes a convoluted concoction of scientific calculations, new ageism and Biblical references.
For most of us, seeing into the future and knowing our end could be both a bane and a blessing, as it is for many of the characters in this story. But rather than spoiling the conclusion of this thriller, suffice it to say, most parents will gladly opt not to expose their offspring to the catastrophic future predicted in this film.Starring Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release March 20, 2009. Updated July 22, 2016
Rating & Content Info
Why is Knowing rated PG-13? Knowing is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language
A handful of moderate profanities and terms of Christian Deity are scattered throughout this script that depicts frequent alcohol consumption among several characters. One man, who is mourning the loss of his wife, follows up a night of excessive drinking by driving the school carpool the next morning. Children, who repeatedly hear voices in their head, are compelled to write down numbers, to the point of scratching digits into wood with bloody fingers. Ominous, silent characters enter a child’s bedroom, show up at school, lurk outside a home and appear to threaten youngsters on several occasions. Animals, cities, homes and forests are engulfed in flames. A plane crashes in front of motorists. Burning victims, corpses and a mangled fuselage are shown. A speeding subway car crushes numerous characters and causes extensive underground havoc. Terrorists threaten to deploy a bomb in a large city. Children are kidnapped. A woman’s suicide is discussed. A man with a gun chases others. Looters destroy businesses. A character is killed in a brutal car crash. Brief comments are made about sexual orientation and a woman’s large anatomy.
Page last updated July 22, 2016
More parents' guide for Knowing after the break...
Knowing Parents' Guide
How do the depictions of the elementary school principals in this film illustrate the societal changes that occurred over a 50-year period?
Would you live your life differently if you knew when you would die? How does the knowledge of impending disaster impact the characters in this film? Why is John’s outlook on life changed so dramatically by the loss of his wife?
How does this film intertwine religious faith and scientific theory?
The most recent home video release of Knowing movie is July 7, 2009. Here are some details…
Release Date: 7 July 2009
Learn more about Knowing with the release of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray. Both formats of the film also include two behind-the-scenes featurettes and an audio commentary by the director.
Related home video titles:
Scientists also predict a disastrous outcome when environmental changes cause a freezing front to advance across the continent in The Day After Tomorrow. In another film dealing with the devastation of 9/11, Nicolas Cage plays a Port Authority police officer trapped in the rubble in the movie World Trade Center.