Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn
Release Date: March 4th
Unknown does not waste much time jumping into the action. One minute we’re being gently introduced to Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson), a biotechnologist and his wife Elizabeth (Jones), and the next; we’re watching a frantic rush to the airport to retrieve a forgotten briefcase, landing Harris in a car-accident-induced coma for four days.
By the time he’s awoken, another man (Quinn) has stolen his identity, and no one, his wife included, appears to recognise him. With the help of his taxi driver from the accident (Kruger), he begins trying to prove he is who he thinks he is, but not without several twists.
With a film like this, you have to ignore the somewhat ridiculous general lack of anything resembling reality, because otherwise you’d be pointing out plot holes all day. With the audience being given no more information than Harris himself, we’re drawn into his confusion and disorientation. However, after the beginning, everything seems to move a little too slowly.
Rather than being captivated by the mystery, it just gets a bit boring, to the point where even the action scenes are a little bit paint-by-numbers. The third act, however, is more original and more unexpected than you would anticipate.
The problem seems to lie more in the writing, and to some degree, the clichéd score, than the cast. Following Taken, Neeson appears to have made himself at home in this kind of role, and Kruger succeeds in adding to the mystery, even if occasionally she wasn’t quite sure what accent she was using.
Jones, however, will probably be remembered more for her slinky dresses than her performance. Something of a show-stealer came in the character of Ernst Jurgen (Bruno Ganz, better known for his role as Adolf Hitler in Downfall), an ex-Stazi officer who helps Harris with his investigation.
Unknown fumbles along until the last 15 minutes. Devoid of urgency, it’s hard to really connect with it. However, Berlin is shot beautifully, and they really take advantage of their setting.
The script is somewhat lacking though, and with lines like “I didn’t forget everything. I remember how to kill you, asshole,” coming from Neeson, parts seem more than a little contrived. The film’s premise was good, but ultimately they failed to take advantage of it in full. It is entertaining, but just not excellent.
In A Nutshell: A little bit Taken, a little bit Bourne Identity, mostly a little bit dull.
– Aoife Valentine