Unknown – Review

Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife Liz,  (January Jones) suddenly doesn’t recognize him and another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity.  Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by assassins, he finds himself alone, tired, and on the run.

On his own in a strange country, Martin seeks aid from an unlikely and reluctant source (Diane Kruger) as he plunges headlong into a deadly mystery that will force him to question his sanity, his identity, and just how far he’s willing to go to uncover the truth.

“Unknown” was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (“Orphan”), from a screenplay by Oliver Butcher & Stephen Cornwell, based on the novel by Didier van Cauwelaert.

I honestly expected another Taken from Neeson but instead we get a finely nuanced movie about a man trying to uncover the story of why his life has been hijacked by someone else.

It is a massive conceit, this.  How do you convince the audience that the guy they meet at the beginning of the movie may not in fact be the guy he thinks he is.  And if he’s not that guy, who is he?  And if he is that guy, why is someone else pretending to be him?  And why does his wife fail to recognise him?

I don’t think anyone else could have pulled off this role as well as Nesson, to be honest.  As I mentioned before it is finely nuanced and we are played from the moment we sit down in the darkened theatre.  Towards the climax of the movie, we’ve been through various twists and turns and quite a staggering reveal, and you feel a bit mangled, I’ll be honest.

I sat thinking for quite a big part of the movie that Neeson’s character was somehow insane, that he fixated on this doctor and his wife and that he fantasised himself into their lives, taking the role of the doctor himself.  I am sure several audience members felt exactly the same.  I just didn’t know, I couldn’t figure it out.  You knew there was a twist in there, but somehow I just didn’t see it until it was pointed out quite elegantly.

Unknown is a great suspense thriller fully utilising on Neeson’s capacity to create a viable believable leading man who can be as bumbling, humble, sweet and vulnerable as the role requires and then ramp it up into a completely different level when it comes to the action sequences.

I need to say here that Diane Kruger’s character as Gina, Martin’s reluctant partner in his quest to find out the truth about himself, really does set the screen alight.  She is the slightly nefarious taxi driver that saves him at the start of the movie when their taxi goes into the river, setting the nightmare in motion.  Her role is wonderfully underplayed and with Neeson as her foil, she really comes across as a tough, beautiful and capable young woman.  Here she isn’t expected to play the victim (think of Troy) but instead she is a facilitator, always moving forward, even when she is scared out of her wits.

January Jones as Liz, Martyn’s wife, is the stunningly beautiful ice queen.  Her facade never slips and you can’t ever see behind the mask, except very briefly in one scene, but even then you aren’t sure if she’s telling the truth or if she’s lying.  We are never clear on her agenda, until the last few crucial scenes.  I for one did a quiet fistpump when things played out they way I wanted them to.  

Unknown is a packed full of action sequences but it the car chase scenes that take the plaudits here. Fast, in your face, gritty and loud, they are perfectly contrasted against the stylised city of Berlin they played out in.  The fight scenes with Neeson and his assassins and various other Bad People are maybe not as well executed as action audiences would have liked, but bearing in mind that his character would not know how to throw a punch or land a roundhouse kick, it was completely believable.

When it comes out, I want to go and see it again to see what I missed the first time watching it.  Clearly there must have been pointers along the way, to alert the audience to the twist coming up, but I don’t know what I was doing because I definitely didn’t see a single thing.  I was completely taken by surprise and I’m a girl who takes two minutes to figure out the bad guy / twist in any thriller or adventure movie!

Unknown should be in theatres by 4th March 2011.

The photos I used in this review, was taken from the Unknown UK Facebook page – www.facebook.com/unknownuk

More from the world of Geek Syndicate

One comment

  1. Think I’m gonna check this out. Awesome review

%d bloggers like this: