Sam Strange Remembers: KNOWING

Hollywood legend Sam Strange recalls that time he made a Nicolas Cage movie about time capsules!

Some of you may want to make a crazy science fiction movie when you grow up. Here’s a little advice to help you on your way. If you want the film to be taken seriously as a piece of scientific speculation that comments on the human condition, hire an actor. If you want your film to make money, hire Nicolas Cage.

People seem to love Nicolas Cage even though he’s alien on an almost Crispin Glover level. It may be a cosmic practical joke, but it’s a good one.

Obviously, there are benefits to having a bonkers actor who can play in Middle America without being called a faggot. By virtue of his casting alone, your likely compromised Hollywood product automatically regains some of its edge. The right people will see it because Nicolas Cage perplexes them. The wrong people will see it because Nicolas Cage attracts them. But either way, people will see it, unless it’s one of his couple dozen failures. But in a career spanning almost fifty films, what are the chances of that?

Knowing was a perfect project for Nicolas Cage because it met his talents half way. The script was just regular enough that a regular actor would make it boring, but just strange enough that a strange actor would make it memorable. In other words, we didn’t need Nicolas Cage to come in and resurrect a dead movie with weird line readings because that sort of thing isn’t necessary with lines that are already weird.

The plot involves a little girl back in the 1950s who hears strange voices. These voices compel her to fill a piece of paper with numbers and put it into a time capsule that will be opened by Nicolas Cage’s son in 1999, long rumored to be year of the apocalypse because the Mayans never got around to inventing the number 2000 and needed a deus ex machina.

Once Nicolas Cage gets the numbers, he take one look and thinks it’s all gibberish. But, then he uses this power he has to see two minutes into the future. And two minutes into the future, Nicolas Cage suddenly realizes what the numbers indicate, which means Nicolas Cage two minutes in the past figures it out two minutes ahead of time. He later loses this time by accidentally getting sucked into an episode of Law & Order he didn’t even catch the first half of.

It turns out the numbers are a code that gives Nicolas Cage the date, body count, and coordinates of every tragedy since the paper was buried, along with numerical identifier of each Muslim responsible (Nicolas Cage doesn’t figure out that last part). This is a big deal because there are three dates that have not yet come to pass, which means Nicolas Cage has an opportunity to be in front row seats when they happen. And since he can see two minutes into the future, he gets watch the atrocities twice!

Saving people is important to Nicolas Cage because he failed to save his wife’s life and takes it personally. His ability to see two minutes into the future did not help because he was two and a half minutes away when she died. Since then, his one and only goal in life is to make sure his son is safe, unlike most dads who just want to make sure their sons can get boners around women.

Nicolas Cage’s son is called Cabel a clever mash-up of two random names I found in The Bible™. Like his father, Cabel has paranormal capabilities. He can’t see two minutes into the future, but he can communicate with really scary guys who glow and look like Sting. They’re not very helpful, though. All they ever do is hand him smooth black rocks and occasionally shoot numbers in his head, which might be constructive if his dad, Nicolas Cage, didn’t already have a sheet of paper filled with the exact same numbers.

Cabel is also a really nice kid. We know this because he decides to be a vegetarian at the beginning of the film. He’s also a 4th wave feminist, a gay rights advocate, and a rare Marble Contributor to his local NAACP branch. Despite all this maturity, Nicolas Cage keeps his highly intelligent kid out of the loop for most of the movie. It’s kind of a requirement that all movie parents who really love their children constantly tell them to leave the room when talking needs to go beyond bald-faced lies of comfort.

Anyway, Nicolas Cage goes where the numbers tell him to go and a plane crashes. A few days later, he witnesses a horrible subway accident. It’s really exciting. People are on fire and getting smashed and shit. Nicolas Cage’s face is saying “This loss of human life is horrible!” but his heart is saying, “Did you see that shit! Wow! The special effects in this movie are amazing!”

Things turn sour when he tries to understand the third remaining tragedy. The casualty number is not a number at all but the letters EE. Since Nicolas Cage doesn’t want to miss work over something that might not pay off, he visits the daughter of the little girl who wrote the paper at the beginning of the film. It turns out the EE stands for “Everyone Else.” Suddenly things aren’t so awesome anymore.

Nicholas Cage deduces that the sun is going to shoot us with a sun-bullet that will kill absolutely everyone on the planet. Luckily, the guys who look like Sting have known this the whole time, and they have a plan. They can’t save Earth, but they can make sure Caleb and his new girlfriend (the other lady’s daughter) doesn’t die. The bad news is that this is the first party in the whole world that Nicolas Cage is not invited to.

Nicolas Cage and his son have a tearful goodbye in which Nicolas tells Caleb, “Stay.” The kid’s finger lights up and he responds “I’ll…be…right…here.” After that, the kid, his girlfriend, and the guys who look like Sting leave Earth in a spaceship specifically designed to travel through galaxies thanks to millions of metal panels that float around doing nothing.

So now all that’s left is watching the whole world blow up. It’s great. Or really emotional, I mean.

Epilogue: The Sting aliens deposit Caleb and his girlfriend on their new planet along with equal children from all over the world. They kill a pig and sharpen a stake for its head. KNOWING!

(three stars)

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