Thursday, March 3, 2011
Movie Review: Unknown
I don't know about this.
There isn't terribly much to say about Unknown, the entirely forgettable thriller from Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax).
The most unknown fact about this film in today's world is that it is not, in fact, Taken 2, though the Warner Brothers campaign machine seems to view that as the best way to sell the picture. It certainly does qualify as a thriller, though, and the exciting moments are the only thing that give this Liam Neeson vehicle any chance at success.
Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, an American scientist arriving in Berlin with his lovely wife Elizabeth (January Jones) for a biotechnology conference. Leaving her at their hotel, Martin grabs a quick taxi back to the airport for his forgotten passport, therefore conveniently lacking any identification on his person when the cab plunges into the river, and Martin ends up in a coma as a result. When he comes to four days later, no one knows him, and the cab driver who saved his life, Gina (Diane Kruger), refuses to help him. Martin soon learns that another man is posing as him at the conference, and for some reason Liz says that she doesn't know Martin.
Unknown is one part Regarding Henry, three overdone parts Frantic and two final parts Bourne again, all reflecting Neeson's current state of mind. The combination of these different narrative archetypes is the closest thing the film has to originlity, as the shaky-cam fist fights and hyper Euro-car chases have all been done before.
The production values of Unknown are more than adequate, but the performances are not. Neeson exudes his usual nobility and charisma, very appropriate for an accomplished professor, but Jones is terribly outclassed as his wife, and the attractive yet plain actress appears as a child in their scenes together. Kruger fares better. Making appearances that can't possibly save the film are Aidan Quinn and Frank Langella.
Skip this one. For better action and drama around an amnesia story, check out the Bourne trilogy.