M.I.T. professor John Koestler links a mysterious list of numbers from a time capsule to past and future disasters and sets out to prevent the ultimate catastrophe.
The movie starts with a little girl staring at the sun, hearing voices during recess. It is 1959, so maybe she is getting a jump on the 60s drug revolution. The teacher wants all the kids to write something for a time capsule. I don’t know why anyone thinks a time capsule is interesting to inhabitants of the future. Looks like she decided to show the future how smart she was by solving pi to like the 5000th place. Since the teacher didn’t let her finish her crazy number writing she runs away and hides in a cupboard and continues writing. Probably just putting REDRUM on the door. It takes two men to lower a time capsule into the ground that the lady teacher easily hoisted onto her desk a moment ago. I guess the weight of those drawings really adds up.
Meanwhile, 50 years later, Nicolas Cage is talking to his son Caleb about life in outer space. Then Caleb reveals himself to be a jerk as he decides to become a vegetarian right after his dad finishes cooking dinner. Classic Lisa Simpson move right there. Cage sends his son to bed, and after some lamenting over his poor deceased wife, Cage retires to one super shabby room to drink alcohol. Only good things can come from this.
Cage teaches at MIT, but he has a model of the solar system that must have been made by a small child. Oh wait, maybe his son made it. Cage is lecturing to his students, but it gets pretty dark fast, when asked if he believes things happen for a reason or if everything is random he says “I believe shit happens.” A better teaching moment I have never seen. Class dismissed! He needs to leave fast to get to Caleb’s school’s ceremony. I’m betting the ceremony for his son is the stupid time capsule. And it is. I wonder if the boy will get the numbers, he does.
Caleb decides to take the numbers home. Dad has zero interest in this number sheet. Return it pronto haste! It is only after a few drinks that dad’s curiosity can be piqued. And, of course, he just somehow randomly picks out 9/11 in a sea of numbers. After that it is all a matter of just matching numbers to events, until he finds the number he dreads the most, the date of his wife’s death. In a rage he rips the board off the wall, which seemed pretty extreme to me. Dad is a mean drunk, time to call CPS.
The next day at work, Cage is trying to convince his friend about the numbers predicting stuff, and his friend smartly says you take a large enough set of random numbers and you are bound to find things in it. He talks to the original teacher who coordinated the time capsule, and learns a little bit more about Lucinda (the original numbers girl).
Meanwhile, some guys roll up on Caleb and offer him a black stone. These guys must be from out of town, because everyone knows if you want kids to get into a strange car you offer them candy, not worthless pebbles.
Cage has a sister in this movie who occasionally watches Caleb, but truly she is not particularly relevant to the story. But Cage is running late, and he just happens to be at the spot where a plane crashes, as predicted by the number sheet. Some of these deaths seem pretty gruesome. Whoever said dying in a plane crash was an easy way to go had it wrong. That night Cage has a dream or something of the strange men in Caleb’s room, and then has a vision of the destruction of the Earth, including some pretty horrific deaths of animals. The movie is trying to push the limits of their PG-13 rating.
The next day Cage goes off to find the girl who wrote the numbers. All he finds is her daughter Diana (Rose Byrne) and her daughter Abby. He stalks them for awhile, and eventually sends Caleb to befriend the girl so that he has an opening to talk to the woman. The woman doesn’t care for his end of the world predictions. So Cage dumps his son on his sister, and then tries to prevent an accident in New York City, which he fails to do.
Diana and Abby then show up at their house, then they drive to a cabin, it was Lucinda’s. After snooping around the cabin, they decide that 33 (the last number Lucinda wrote) is backwards and is really EE = Everyone Else, and then the weird guys come for the kids, but are scared off by the car horn, which suggests their quest is not pure. They stay at this cabin even though they know those weird dudes are out in the woods. You start to get the sense that Diana and Abby (a single mother and daughter duo) are the perfect match for Cage and Caleb, but alas the movie doesn’t care about that.
Cage is suddenly at a research facility, I guess teaching a basic astronomy class gives you the same access as real researchers. The sun is going to destroy life on Earth, I always knew that stupid sun was up to no good. Better get it before it gets us! After this shocking reveal everyone just goes back to Cage’s house to die, I guess. He calls his in-laws and tells them to hide somewhere deep underground. Perhaps to make sure they live to see the hellish nightmare Earth is about to become. Take that in-laws!
Cage decides he needs the final numbers, and learns the girl was found in a closet and goes after it. All the build up in this movie was an elaborate setup to realize his goal to steal this door from the elementary school. It has some numbers on it, apparently they are important, but Diana has decided Cage is going off the deep end. She nabs Caleb and the three of them take off. Everything in this movie is about someone stealing something else.
Diana stops at the only gas station in the world that has live TV going on all the time. She decides to call Cage to tell him her terrible crime, and now, what I only assume are aliens, have also kidnapped the kids. She races after the aliens but then crashes. She just had one serious car accident. I would expect she is dead. On the TV they declare a national emergency. Anytime they declare a national emergency society goes to total pot. And this is no exception. There is some pretty fantastic lightning going on in the background though. To discourage the casual looters the cop on the scene fires his gun into the air, I guess he doesn’t know that bullets come down eventually. Incredibly Diana did die. That’s probably good because she was a little erratic herself. However, I wouldn’t have expected the potential love interest of Cage to die so easily.
Why are these weird guys only stealing children? I don’t think a ton of children are going to be a good start to the new civilization. I think they are going to eat the children. And maybe the rabbits (the kids have been carrying rabbits). Also, these aliens have weird wing like features, probably to trick everyone into believing they are angels. Abby and Caleb enter a spaceship and fly away. Cage returns to his house.
He told his in-laws to get as much underground as possible and stuff, but I guess he has given up even the pretense of seeking cover. And just like that, the Earth is destroyed by that traitorous ball of gas in the sky, called, the Sun.
The final scene plays out that these aliens just dumped these kids on some new planet and abandoned them. But this planet also apparently is where the Tree of Life is, so maybe things will be okay. I think these kids will be sad they don’t have any of the medical advances that Earth had when they discover where “babby” comes from.
This is the second end of the world / kids get saved by “God” movie that Nicolas Cage has done. In both of them Nicolas Cage was left behind. And both of them were bad.