If only some alien voices had whispered to me not to waste my time on this overly self important, stiltifyingly obvious piece of ruined celuloid, I could have spent the time contemplating the only interesting issue the film brought into play: determinism vs random chance.
Here we start out with an interesting beginning; a new grammer school, circa 1959, has the students draw pictures of what they think things will be like 50 years into the future when a time capsule that they are planning on burying will be unearthed. One young girl instead draws a series of numbers, which get placed into the time capsule anyway (first leap of faith and questionable logic - but don't worry, there's many more to come).
Flash forward 50 years to Nicky Cage (whose acting I believe has become almost a parody of itself) who is an MIT professor (read: real smart guy) living with his young son and struggling with the recent loss of his wife in a fire.
We are introduced in a scene where the little brat sasses back to his dad, using phrases way too sophisticated for an 8 year old (hmm, maybe he's a pod person, taken over by aliens - oops, wrong movie).
From here we move to MIT where Cage ruminates whether there is a grand theme to everything, or if we're all just molecules bumping into one another and things only happen by random chance (the right molecule bumps into the right molecule and voila, life happens). This is cool stuff and gives hope that the film will not slide down the slippery slope into just another oddball sci-fi type flick... said hope not only gets dashed on the rocks of ill-logic, but then stomped on, torn apart and spit at.
The film attempts to build on the question of randomness vs determinism when we discover that Cage's kid goes to the same school and wow, hold on to your hats, it's been 50 years!!!!! so the time capsule is going to be unearthed. All the pictures, placed in envelopes within the capsule, will be given to the current students for a day (seems odd, why only a day, etc?). Of course the page with all the numbers is given to Cage's son... and then things really start to unravel.
Through a series of absurdities, brainiac Cage (never thought you'd see those two words together now did ya?) unravels the mystery - the little girl was predicting the dates and number of deaths in disasters that were in her future. Cage tries to hunt down the young girl (who would now be in her 50's) but ends up with her 30 something daughter (and granddaughter who is Cage's son's age)instead. Now the slippery slope starts gaining speed, like a snowball that becomes an avalanche, and the film falls into cliche and badly written convention as Cage the brainiac turns into Cage the action hero... maybe he thought he was doing another National Treasure film.
Remember on the original Star Trek that whenever Kirk and Co. beamed down to a planet the first order of business was to split up, so that some poor security guy gets killed (the heck with safety in numbers... maybe they'd forgotten that axiom in the 26th century). Well, for some really absurd reasons, that is exactly what happens in Knowing. Not once, not twice, but over and over - as if the damned woman (and what a laughingly bad performance in what I hope will be Rose Byrnes' last role) has a death wish, or thinks she is somehow smarter than an MIT professor. But of course, all the split ups lead to harrowing car chases "I'll save ya" kind of stuff that is totally over the top melodrama. She actually utters at one point "we've got to save the children" - ouch!!!!!
Just when you think the film couldn't get any worse... it does; throwing in a goofball deux ex machina (guided by a set of rules that makes no sense either). The final scenes are gratutious, silly, and totally devoid of all the gravitude the filmmakers had supposedly intended. The CGI scenes were superflous, made, I imagine, only to spice up the trailer, as they really didn't add anything to the story (and that's saying a lot in this case).
Ebert gave this steaming pile 4 stars - he must have been heavily medicated that day. I've read comic books with better story lines than this.