“How am I supposed to stop the end of the world?” sighs Nicolas Cage in his latest high-concept actioner.
Well, it might help if his widowed astrophysicist told a few more people about the mysterious list of digits he’s discovered that, when correctly decoded, gives the precise date of an impending apocalypse.
Instead he hares about solo, trying with no great success to prevent the various portents of Doomsday – a plane crash here, a subway disaster there – that give Alex Proyas’ film its rare flashes of excitement.
You’d have thought he’d at least leave a note for the milkman or, given the devastating solar flares heading in Earth’s direction, tell his neighbours to stock up on sun-block.
But just how did Cage come into possession of those freaky numbers? Ah, therein lies a mildly diverting tale involving an unearthed time capsule from 1959, a soothsaying little girl who hears voices and a bunch of spooky albinos who follow Nic and his young son around like silent stalkers.
It also brings him into contact with Troy’s Rose Byrne, so overwrought as a single mother caught up in the action that Armageddon simply can’t come fast enough. (“We’ve got to save the children!” she shrieks hysterically in one of her calmer moments.)
That it’s coming at all, of course, suggests Proyas may have a wider message to impart: some eco-conscious warning about the damage we’re doing to the planet, perhaps, or a reminder to embrace life while we have it.
In truth, however, Knowing has a far more insidious agenda: to convince non-believers like Cage, an embittered, alcoholic atheist since his wife’s death, there is intelligent design in the universe.
“My scientific mind is telling me I should have nothing to do with this!” says Nic’s MIT pal Ben Mendelsohn. Your critical mind may well be telling you the same thing…