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(2009), PG-13 [Hardcore R-13*] (1hr 55min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
July 10, 2009
July 12, 2009

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2009), PG-13 [Hardcore R-13*] ... Disaster violence is intense and thick...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Summit Entertainment (presents), Escape Artists, Mystery Clock Cinema (in association with), Goldcrest Pictures, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment, Wintergreen Productions
Distribution (US): Summit Entertainment
Director(s): Alex Proyas
Producer(s): David Alper, Todd Black, David J. Bloomfield, Jason Blumenthal, Topher Dow, Norman Golightly, Stephen Jones, Aaron Kaplan, Ryne Douglas Pearson, Sean Perrone, Alex Proyas, Steve Tisch
Screenplay: Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Story: Ryne Douglas Pearson
Cinematography/Camera: Simon Duggan
Music: Marco Beltrami
Film Editing: Richard Learoyd
Casting: Gregory Apps
Production Design: Steven Jones-Evans
Art Direction: Sam Lennox
Viewed on Summit Entertainment DVD.

This analysis is sponsored by the generosity of C&EZ and E&HP.

Little Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson) is gifted. Or maybe she is visited? Either way, she becomes the "true prophet" of the millennium. And her predictions come true. Always. The Bible tells us that only a prophet of God can be 100% correct every time: that any prophet who is not 100% correct is not of God. Lucinda's track record would say she is a prophet of God ... but she is not.

On October 13, 1959 at the William Dawes Elementary School in Lexington, Massachusetts Miss Priscilla Taylor (Danielle Carter - 1959) made an announcement to her class. In September Principal Clarke (David Lennie) ran a competition to find the best idea to celebrate the October 14, 1959 official opening day: that yesterday, October 12, the staff selected the winner with the best idea. The winner was setting in Miss Taylor's class that moment. It was little Lucinda Embry whose idea was to bury a time capsule to be opened 50 years later on October 13, 2009.

Sidebar Note: The film writers did an excellent job portraying the level of respect, personal discipline of the students and classroom conduct of 1959. Kudos to the writers for at least that.

Miss Taylor instructed the class to draw pictures of what they think the future might hold. Their pictures would be placed in the time capsule to be opened by the same-age Dawes students of 2009. Everyone was excited as they drew their pictures ... except silent little Lucinda. Lucinda did not draw a picture but instead wrote a long series of numbers, enough to fill the entire page, single spaced. Note that Miss Taylor took up Lucinda's paper before Lucinda finished it. That Lucinda did not finish her paper will build on a point I hope to make below.

For those of you who have seen the film or those who intend to watch it in spite of it earning a hardcore R-13 equivalence (see R-13 for more information), since Lucinda was not allowed by Miss Taylor to finish the paper it could not have had the two backward "Es" as the last characters on the page as did her paper later in the film. This is one of a couple such minor holes in the story and its flow. Another hole was how, after being decided the day before, did a time capsule, its metal label, its concrete grave, the engraved grave cover and a plethora of other preparations get done in one day?

At the celebration ceremony as the time capsule grave cover is placed, Miss Taylor noticed Lucinda has disappeared. Shortly after a search by police and Miss Taylor, Lucinda is found in a closet under the gym ... scratching with her fingernails onto the inside of the closet door the numbers she was not able to include at the end of her paper in Miss Taylor's class (the final two "Es" may or may not have been in blood on the inside of the closet door). Lucinda was now vocal but all she would say is "Make them stop!" She was speaking of the voices ... in her head.

Lucinda was a sad child. Always having to listen to whispers, Lucinda became always preoccupied and withdrawn. Even when Miss Taylor called the class in from the schoolyard to make her announcement, Lucinda was alone and off to the side, staring at the sun. This scene was an intelligent and creative device by the writers to make an early point about the importance of the sun to the story. Keep that in mind if you decide to watch this film.

Just to plant a quick point, note now that the Bible warns the Earth will be destroyed in the end by fire [2 Pet. 3:10] Whether the writers intended to do so or even knew, there are a couple fortifications of God's Word found in this film. But, as to be expected of a film for teens, in places it also challenges that which God tells us in the Bible.

After Lucinda is found in the closet under the gym the film moves through a few high altitude scenes of America as credits float around, then to the home of Dr. John Koestler (Nicholas cage), professor of astrophysics at the regal Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With Dr. Koestler is his son, Caleb (Joshua Long and Chandler Canterbury). John's wife, Allison (Adrienne Pickering) died earlier (before the film) in a hotel fire. John and Caleb are getting along fine if a few snippets of arrogance at dad from adolescent Caleb are "fine." God does not think so. Together John and Caleb mentally calculate the number of possible worlds bearing life while dad prepares Dad's Famous Sunday Night Hot Dogs on the Run for his son who declared himself vegetarian to get out of eating them so he could watch a Discovery(tm) program.

Caleb is a bright boy who suffers a bit of a hearing problem. Sounds "just get jumbled" sometimes. But he has no trouble hearing the voices, the whispering voices just like Lucinda heard 50 years ago.

Soon we are treated to a view of MIT from the Charles River across Memorial Drive that would do well on a picture postcard. The filmmakers were even attentive to the season of the film with the trees turning due to autumn changes. The leaf color change appeared to be computer coloration rather than true autumn colors as evidence by another scene of the MIT Observatory -- all the trees were the same shade and hue -- but it is attention to seasonal detail nonetheless.

At MIT Koestler teaches randomness and determinism and how they may be contributory to the development of the universe. After a rather lengthy period of classroom instruction ending in "There is no meaning. There is no purpose" with a few uses of profanity and after a leisurely stroll between Koestler and the professor of Cosmology, Dr. Phil Beckman (Ben Mendelsohn), also with few uses of profanity, the story moves to the present day William Dawes Elementary School where they prepare to unearth the time capsule buried 50 years ago to the day. (Note that the class sings the children's gospel and civil rights movement song, "This Little Light of Mine.") Miss Priscilla Taylor (Alethea McGrath - 2009) is still alive so the school has her do the honors of opening the ceremony.

As Miss Taylor hands out the envelopes containing the drawings from 50 years ago, Caleb gets Lucinda's string if numbers ... which invokes the whispering voices. Soon, John and Caleb are at home where John first sees the list of numbers written 50 years ago. After becoming a little inebriated John chooses one set of numbers, "911012996" and plays around with them until he notices the fist numbers are 9-11-01 ... the date of the September 2001 Memorial Day '911' attack on America. After the "91101" numbers on Lucinda's list were the numbers "2996" -- the number of people killed in that attack. But this list of numbers from Lucinda is 50 years old -- long before disasters such as the 911 attack!

Further, there are additional numbers after the date and number of deaths number strings on Lucinda's list. One example is "42417120." John could not imagine what those numbers meant. And neither could Dr. Phil who did not even yet buy into the date/deaths prediction number concept. But as Dr. Koestler sets in a traffic jam and uses GPS to find an alternate route to Dawes Elementary School he notices the latitude and longitude on the GPS for where he sets are 42 degrees 41 minutes latitude and 71 degrees 20 minutes longitude. He immediately recalled one of the sets of date/deaths numbers were followed by 42417120! He was setting right atop the location for the next disaster that, by Lucinda's predictions, was to happen that day and kill 81 people!

Note that here is where the content of the film starts to get extreme. The disaster was of a commuter jet crashing into the ground after dragging its left wing along the ground and across the highway on which Koestler set. There are scenes in that sequence which are truly horrific. One in particular is of five or six people walking away from the wreckage as a fiery explosion engulfs them in flame, the fireball then subsiding a little, then watching the people take a step or two and fall ... on fire! "Realistic" is a stingy term to describe the film artistry. There were none of the typical bulky fire suits on the performers. All were wearing business attire. One even appeared to be wearing a white flight shirt. All faces and hands were bare. Yes, it is a film with actors and actresses doing their jobs. But at times, under the expert skills of master filmmakers and performers conjuring emotion, realism and objectivity and pragmatism of the observers fail to do their jobs. Especially for the young, even teens, who typically do not have the experiential maturity to contain such larger-than-life sensory assaults and invasions. I am a licensed Emergency Medical Technician. I deal with real physical trauma on a routine basis but I could feel my realism and objectivity threatening to wane during this fantasy sequence.

One more example of such intensely grabbing cinematography is in a subway train wreck. Due to outstanding talents of the filmmakers the viewer sees what appears to be bodies bouncing off the front of a runaway train mowing through crowds of people and sees bodies being rolled under the train. This is a film with intensely influencing imagery amplified by masterfully mixed sound effects that make each and every frame effectively seem to include the viewer in the portrayed disaster.

Another sequence of potentially damaging imagery is of what could be termed the world on fire with forest animals aflame as they bound out of the flames. There is additional similarly invasive imagery but enough is enough.

Knowing is a complex story with intricate connectivity and flow -- is not a check-your-brain-at-the-door film. It is a top-notch sci-fi speculation film with outstanding choreography and performances intensely amplified by the power of modern technology. There is, of course, much more to the story but I've spoiled enough of it should you decide to watch it in spite of its hardcore R-13 equivalence. That Lucinda and others "hear" voices that predict the dates of disasters is the concept on which the rest of the story is based.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
Violence is the most intense property of this film. Enough so to cause it to lose all of the 100 starting points in this investigation area. Disaster violence is intense and thick as described above and more completely in the listing in the Findings/Scoring section (the heart of the CAP analysis model).

In spite of so many vain claims to the contrary, all exposure of they who are of limited experiential maturity (such as at-home teens and younger) to violence, however light or intense and extreme it might be, will be influenced to some degree if only in becoming yet more desensitized to the natural and innate contempt of violence of any kind. God tells us in many ways that He abhors violence whether for good or evil and that its effect on us is undesirable. He warns us of its copycat property in 1 Cor. 15:33 and in Prov. 16:29 and many other equal or more severe verses of warning and admonition.

Impudence/Hate (I) - 33 out of 100
Matters of impudence are limited basically to an adolescent boy's disrespect of his father and to profanity. Eight times someone, mostly Cage, utters some form of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Col. 3:8, Prov. 22:11]. But fortunately not once was the most foul of the foul words noted. Strange danger is noted a couple times as a matter of impudence/hate. The kidnapping of the two children is also included in Impudence/Hate [Luke 17:2].

Sexual Immorality (S) - 83 out of 100
The scoring of the content in this investigation area is the second highest score. Content of sexual orientation is limited to sexual innuendo about the size of a woman's breasts, to a "gay" reference, actions of one performer (standing out from all other performers) to draw attention to her breasts, adults in underwear and one scene of a man in a shower. All these matters fall within the scope of God's admonition against coarse joking and bordering on obscenity in Ephesians 5:4.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 30 out of 100
Here is where another serious warning is warranted. the film is freckled with numerous instances of drinking and drunkenness. The American College of Physicians published their findings regarding underage exposure to alcohol/drinking in and as entertainment in a 2002 report.

The report revealed that adolescent exposure to drinking in and as entertainment undeniably leads to abuse of alcohol among underage viewers. The finding entitled Relation Between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol reports that of 4544 youths from grades 5 through 8 of fifteen Vermont and New Hampshire middle schools (90% of the youths were under fourteen years old) only 16% were completely restricted from viewing R-rated movies. Within the ACP study population, the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was

  • 46% for those with no viewing restrictions
  • 16% for those with partial viewing restrictions
  • four percent for those with complete viewing restrictions.

    The researchers selected R-rated movies because they assumed R-rated movies typically present more drinking than movies of other classifications. This assumption is no longer true. The researchers were not aware of the matter of R-13 proven by this ministry in 2000 with which Harvard University researchers agreed four years later. The bottom line? The focus is that the influence of adolescent exposure to drinking (and smoking) in and as entertainment is undeniable regardless of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) classification. [Eph. 5:18] Even the University of Connecticut corroborates our claim though their article is no longer online. It used to be ""

    Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say? And emboldening children to sin with drink in and as entertainment screams of violating Luke 17:2.

    Offense to God (O) - 42 out of 100
    The content of this film found by this investigation area earned a R-equivalent score, too (less than or equal to 54 out of 100). [SPOILER] Though later in the film the "voices" were revealed to be the thoughts of aliens, the voices were implied as unholy and were treated as such. Even if the voices were the thoughts of aliens, telepathy is not a holy power unless it is from God. No where in the 115 minutes of the film was God given any credit for any power or event. In addition and more directly, God's name was used in vain five times though each time was without the four letter expletive. [Deut 5:11]

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
    No murders or suicides were noted. Lucinda was claimed to have committed suicide but nothing of it was seen.


    If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • 2 Pet. 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. [The issue is the violence, no matter how "small" or "just" it might seem, and its effect on an observer. "A violent man" can be a man, woman OR the men/women/characters demonstrating the violent behavior/action on the screen whether for good or evil OR the results or effects of violent behaviors/choices. Knowing of Prov. 16:29 you now know why violence, especially in and as entertainment, can embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. See Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV. And see 1 Cor. 15:33 below.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander (injurious speech), and filthy language [aischrologia: foul speaking, low and obscene speech] from your lips.
  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 and Eph. 5:4 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of this sort of "entertainment" and just to let you know that God knows about "vulgar" and "obscene."]
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it [1 Cor. 6:19]. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk OR to drink in defiance such as underage drinking.]
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or responsible discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Knowing (2009) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
  • little girl acting obsessed
  • series of pictures of disasters/deaths
  • images of gore - little girl's fingers bloody
  • air liner crash - graphic
  • man on fire, repeatedly
  • many people set afire by explosion
  • severe carnage
  • man on fire falling on face into sea of fire
  • man protruding through hole in fuselage with flames lapping around him like a rotisserie
  • a great forest fire with animals running while on fire
  • firearm, repeatedly
  • ominous men stalking a boy, repeatedly
  • disobeying police command
  • long sequence of extreme and massive death and destruction by a runaway subway train hitting and crushing people
  • breaking and entering
  • stills of many disasters
  • evil-acting men coaxing young boy and girl to leave with them
  • firearm threat
  • reckless driving to pursue
  • car theft to pursue kidnappers
  • motor vehicle collision with death
  • gunfire to intimidate
  • massive looting
  • global destruction by fire

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 33 out of 100
  • eight uses of profanity
  • adolescent disrespect of father, repeatedly
  • stranger danger
  • "I'm not a kid any more" by a child in anger toward his father
  • kidnapping of two children

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 83 out of 100
  • sexual innuendo re: size of female breasts
  • "gay" reference re: relationship
  • actress actions to draw attention to her breasts
  • man in shower
  • adult in underwear, twice

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 30 out of 100
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • drunkenness, repeatedly
  • booze, repeatedly
  • guzzling

    Offense to God (O) - 42 out of 100
  • five uses of God's name in vain but all without the four letter expletive
  • "Can't know for sure" re: Heaven exists
  • evolution over Creation
  • "There is no grand meaning. There is no purpose"
  • children hearing voices, repeatedly
  • a man disappearing, repeatedly
  • premonition
  • unholy power
  • levitation of stones

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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