Sunday, March 27, 2011


Year: 2011
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Bruno Ganz, Aidan Quinn, Frank Langella

Plot: Dr Martin Harris and his wife Liz arrive in Berlin where the former will be attending a biotechnology summit. He gets into a car accident and wakes up in the hospital four days later, with no memory of where his wife is. When he finally finds her, she seems to not recognize him, and another man has assumed his identity. With the help of Gina, the cab driver whose cab Martin was in during the accident, and Jurgen, a private investigator, Martin sets out to find the truth.

Review: Liam Neeson is one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood right now, appearing in so many films in the last one year, and this despite the death of his wife Natasha Richardson during that time. Neeson is a wonderful actor, that is without doubt. Unknown is reminiscent of his last action film Taken, where he totally kicked ass as a CIA agent tearing down Paris to rescue his daughter from human traffickers.

However, Unknown is a bit different. Taken is very straightforward, Unknown takes many twists and turns to get to the finish line. It's an action thriller with a mystery thrown in, and for the most part it works. Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed the underrated Orphan, smoothly makes the transition to the action genre, giving us a film that isn't boring or pedestrian at all. He gives the audience one question after another, keeping us guessing as to whom Martin Harris can trust, and the reason all this is happening to him. I also noticed that the credits featured many crew members from Germany, indicating that Collet-Serra filmed this on location, which is a splendid idea, as Berlin seems like a perfectly cold and grey city to reflect a thriller like this.

However, Collet-Serra makes the mistake that many directors make in filming fight sequences: filming them up close. This makes it difficult for the audience to register what is happening on screen, and before you know it, we have one dead body on the ground. Directors need to know that backing the camera up a bit will do wonders for their picture.

Neeson is, needless to say, awesome to watch. He plays a desperate, vulnerable hero here, and it's very believable indeed. Diane Kruger gets the token good samaritan role as Gina, but successfully makes her character likeable enough to have the audience root for her just as much as they root for Neeson. January Jones looks stunning as Liz, but not only is she given too little to do, her acting is just too wooden. Bruno Ganz is impressive as the investigator Jurgen, managing to ellicit a laugh or two in some of his scenes. Aidan Quinn and Frank Langella are a bit wasted in their roles though.

Now, naturally for a thriller like this, there is a revelation in the third act, and like Orphan, it is plausible enough. But still, Unknown is predictable in certain parts, which luckily enough, doesn't quite ruin the enjoyment. It's a solid action thriller, which makes for good entertainment despite not being in the same league as Taken.

A worthy addition to Taken, and other flicks of the same genre. (4/5)

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