I can’t review this one without some spoilers, including the ending, so be warned. It is full of ups and down. It begins well enough in 1959 when an elementary school is burying a time capsule. It’s going to be filled with drawings the kids did, imagining the future fifty years hence. One strange little girl is writing a long list of numbers instead of drawing a picture. So far, so good.
Cut to fifty years later. Nicholas Cage is the Tormented Father of a little boy. The wife/mother died in a huge hotel fire a year ago, and they’re not dealing with it well. When the capsule is opened each kid gets an envelope. Of course, his kid gets all the numbers.
Cut to a classroom at MIT. Dad is a professor of astrophysics, and here we get a downer. He explains things about the sun and the Earth that these MIT students would have known since the fourth grade. It is a great expository lump, and it’s pretty stupid. Well, you’ve seen the same scene a thousand times in movies like this. I wrote one myself. It stinks, but you don’t have a lot of time in a movie, so I forgive the screenwriter, though I winced at everything Dad said.
Later, studying the numbers, Dad sees this sequence: 911012977. He divides it thus: 9/11/01/2977. He realizes that 2977 is the number of people killed on 9/11. He searches through the other numbers and finds that each one coincides with a disaster the girl has predicted, probably about a hundred of them in fifty years. But there are other numbers between, and he doesn’t know what they mean. He takes it all to the obligatory Skeptical Friend, who isn’t convinced. But there are three disasters that haven’t happened yet. On the first day, he is stuck in traffic, looks at his GPS, and realizes the other numbers are latitude and longitudes … and he is on the spot. In seconds, an airliner crashes right in front of him. This is very nicely done.
Of course, after that, he does most things stupidly. He tries to prevent the next disaster in New York City, and of course he fails. But now the real awfulness of this story begins to unfold. All along there have been shadowy figures hiding in the woods. Dad discovers the secret of the last prediction: Under how many people die, the girl has written EE. It stands for Everybody Else. The whole world is going to be destroyed.
But wait! There’s more! If you act right now, you can get an extra helping of awfulness at no extra charge! His son and a little girl have been hearing the same sort of messages the girl heard in 1959. And it turns out … they have been Chosen. The shadowy men are revealed to be … super-powerful space aliens or … I almost hate to write it … angels. That’s right. When Ezekiel saw the wheel, way up there in the middle of the air, it was aliens, who he perceived as angels. Or, are they really angels? They surely look the part. Is God behind all this, destroying the world but saving just a few children? Judging from his track record (Noah, Sodom, Job) I wouldn’t put it past the murderous motherfucker.
Anyway, that’s where I lost it. Nick Cage’s agony at letting his dear son go aboard the starship was totally lost on me. Fuck you, Nick! Fuck you, God! Fuck you, angels! And fuck you, assholes who wrote and produced this piece of shit.