Critics Consensus

Knowing has some interesting ideas and a couple good scenes, but it's weighted down by its absurd plot and over-seriousness.



Total Count: 181


Audience Score

User Ratings: 431,599
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Movie Info

A time capsule containing a cryptic message about the coming apocalypse sends a concerned father on a race to prevent the horrific events from unfolding as predicted in this sci-fi thriller directed by Alex Proyas (Dark City) and starring Nicolas Cage. 1958: As the dedication ceremony for a newly constructed elementary school gets under way, a time capsule containing student drawings of the future is buried on the grounds and scheduled to be unearthed on the school's 50th anniversary. Instead of submitting a drawing, however, one little girl scribbles a series of seemingly random numbers on her paper before it is buried. Fifty years later, the time capsule is unearthed for a new generation of students to examine. Young Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury) is one of those students. The mysterious sequence of numbers falling into his possession, Caleb takes the paper to his father, Professor John Koestler (Cage), for examination. Studying the numbers, Professor Koestler soon discovers that they aren't random at all, but an encoded message containing the precise dates, death tolls, and coordinates of every major disaster since the time capsule was buried. Not only that, but the document also indicates that there will be three more such events, the last of which indicates a doomsday scenario that appears directly tied to Professor Koestler and Caleb. His desperate plea to authorities falling on deaf ears, Professor Koestler realizes that his only hope for preventing more lives from being lost is to take personal action. Though the author of the prophecies is no longer living, Professor Koestler is eventually able to track down her daughter Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne), and granddaughter Abby, who reluctantly agree to aid in the investigation. As the final date on the list draws near, Professor Koestler enters into a frantic race against time to prevent destruction on a global scale, in the process realizing that in order to save millions of lives, he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


Nicolas Cage
as John Koestler
Chandler Canterbury
as Caleb Koestler
Rose Byrne
as Diana Wayland
Lara Robinson
as Lucinda Embry/Abby Wayland
Ben Mendelsohn
as Phil Beckman
Nadia Townsend
as Grace Koestler
Alethea McGrath
as Miss Taylor (2009)
Danielle Carter
as Priscilla Taylor
Alan Hopgood
as Reverend Koestler
D.G. Maloney
as The Stranger
Joshua Long Gone
as Younger Caleb
David Lennie
as Principal Clark (1959)
Tamara Donnellan
as Lucinda's Mother
Travis Waite
as Lucinda's Father
Carolyn Shakespeare-Allen
as Principal (2009)
Joanna Hunt-Prokhovnik
as Carlpool Mate 1
Jean-Michael Tan
as Carpool Mate 2
Rody Claude
as Patrolman
Nathaniel Kiwi
as Paramedic
Blair Venn
as Paramedic
Alyssa McClelland
as Flight Attendant
Ra Chapman
as Jessica
Benita Collings
as John's Mother
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News & Interviews for Knowing

Critic Reviews for Knowing

All Critics (181) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (60) | Rotten (121)

  • Rather like watching an intricately arranged set of dominos starting to topple. That's neat. I didn't see that one coming, you think, as yet another train carriage joins the pile-up.

    Apr 3, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • As well as being perversely pessimistic for a blockbuster, it's rendered tedious by a dense plot and lifeless characters. Even M Night Shyamalan would have done a better job. How dare such an empty film ask us to endure many realistic scenes of carnage?

    Mar 31, 2009 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • Mixing Spielbergian child-like wonder, disaster movie spectacle and the cod-religious silliness of M Night Shyamalan's 'Signs'. The premise is compelling, but the execution is over-cooked.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…

    Nigel Floyd

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A clunky screenplay doesn't help matters, but the spectacularly shoddy special effects are the nail in the coffin for this doomsday scenario.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Some movies, however unpromising, can be saved by a great ending. Here is one.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Knowing, though the story of disasters, isn't a total disaster itself. It's just too ambitious for its own good.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 2/5

Audience Reviews for Knowing

  • Jun 11, 2014
    Enjoyable Science Fiction thriller, Knowing managed to be a more impressive film than what I'd initially thought. Although not a great movie, this is nonetheless a good film, well worth your time. The film had a very good concept, which kept me entertained, however at times I did feel that there were aspects of the film could have been improved upon. Halfway through the film, the film seems to lose its vigor, and in turn, the vibe of the film sort of falters a bit, and instead of being a truly memorable, standout feature, it lingers on as a good, entertaining picture that never realizes its ambition of being a thought provoking, truly interesting film. I mean, the film is good, and it's entertaining, but it could have been so much more as well. Director Alex Proyas, who has experience in the Sci Fi genre, helms the project, and through his lens, he captures a good atmosphere that is engaging, but does lack in terms of unrealized potential. I was hoping for something truly great with this film, but as a whole, it's a good affair, one that is one of the better of recent Nicholas Cage films. If you can forget the film's flaws, you'll like it for what it is, just don't expect a truly grand sci fi epic, as the film leaves a bit to be desired. Proyas has directed better movies, but Knowing for what it is, is worth seeing if you enjoy mindless entertainment, and it's far better than what you might think. Although not a great movie, this film definitely doesn't deserve the negativity it has received. Go into the film with an open mind, and you might enjoy it.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Apr 24, 2014
    It was interesting at first but then it didn't evolve into something impressive.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer
  • Oct 22, 2012
    Scenario time: Some intern working in the studio renders out a 3D CGI scene of the sun's flares engulfing the world one city at a time, destroying everything. The future producer of "Knowing" sees this scene and immediate hires writers to come up with a screenplay as fast as possible revolving around this as the ending. They hire Nicolas Cage, because they know the movie's going to be awful regardless and . . . the birth of Knowing. Now, I wasn't there, but it seems like this is exactly how this film came to fruition.
    Jason 123 D Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 2012
    When it comes to WTF endings, Knowing has a doozy. The story follows a MIT professor who gets a list of numbers that predict world disasters, and he soon becomes obsessed with finding a way to save his son when the numbers predict a global apocalypse. Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne lead the cast and give good performances. And the story is quite interesting, full of intrigue and mystery. However, the ending is rushed and comes off as bizarre since it's not properly developed. Still, Knowing is a daring and provocative thriller that explores some interest themes.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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