Taping into the need for escapism, the sci-fi thriller 'Knowing' delivers a two-hour plus recession pass, so it’s not all bad.

An American elementary class prepare messages to put into their school’s 1959 time capsule. Fast forward to 2009, Caleb (Canterbury) is the ‘lucky’ boy to pick the envelope handed in by Lucinda (Robinson).

Instead of a usual pretty picture of the late 1950s, tormented Lucinda created a one page sheet of numbers. Confused, Caleb shows his dad, John (Cage), who just happens to be an astrophysics professor at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the perfect person to stumble across such a hidden gem. Hold onto your guffaw for just a second.

With the help of Lucinda’s daughter (‘Damages’ wonderful Rose Byrne) and granddaughter (also played by Robinson), his trusty SatNav, a black board and a crate load of whiskey, he breaks the numerical riddle. Guffaw away... but not for long.

It transpires that Lucinda wrote the numbers knowing that they were the dates and locations of tragedies that would strike in the future. Cage’s familiar sad-faced, nervy character sets out to prevent them from happening.

The widower sets out as an agnostic scientist but contradicts himself by morphing into a believer – tapping into the current psyche of hope and the need for faith. Seriously? The film takes itself way too seriously, for way too long. There are a couple of interesting ‘What would you do’s?’ but nothing too gripping.

Director Alex Proyas does know how to create stunning action sequences, though, and doesn’t shy away from staging enormous loss of life whether by airplane/tube crash or other tragedies. Perfect popcorn munching, date snuggling fodder.

When it comes to a father’s self-sacrifice, aliens and doomsday 'Knowing' is a cross between 'War of the Worlds', 'Armageddon' and 'ET' – just not necessarily the best bits.

A big blockbuster with Cage doing Cage, corny lines, cute kids, oodles of action and shameless heart-plucking – any wonder it’s currently at the top of the US box-office. ‘Knowing’ gets the last laugh.

Taragh Loughrey-Grant