At Quality 16 and Showcase

1.5 out of 5 stars

Nicolas Cage’s ticking time bomb of a career inches closer to total irrelevancy with “Knowing,” what seems to be his 4,000th schlocky action/suspense hybrid in a row. It’s hard to believe that the serious actor who once wowed his audience with raw talent in “Leaving Las Vegas” has subjected today’s theaters to a line of dreck that includes “The Wicker Man,” “Bangkok Dangerous,” “Next” and now “Knowing.” Surely this guy knows — pardon the pun — by now that he’s better than this.

This predicting-the-Apocalypse tale is so generic there’s a sense of futility surrounding it. Cage plays a learned astronomer at M.I.T. (Walt Whitman would be proud) who becomes obsessed with a series of numbers on a paper found inside a time capsule at his son’s elementary school. The numbers seem to predict the exact date and location of every disaster in the world, and Cage races to stop the ones that haven’t happened yet.

Explosions, mysterious hooded figures and creepy “The Shining” kids abound, and by the end director Alex Proyas (“I, Robot”) ditches the numbers game in favor of a bunch of extraterrestrial hoo-hah. The mass carnage scenes are fun in a sadistic way, although the PG-13 restrictions are laughable when a rail-jumping subway train mows over dozens of people without spilling any blood.

Here’s a fun game to play while watching “Knowing”: Write down all the coded numbers that appear on screen. They will reveal the exact date and time when Cage stopped caring.

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