Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.
2011. Rated PG-13, 113 minutes.
Liam Neeson
Diane Kruger
January Jones
Aidan Quinn
Bruno Ganz
Frank Langella
Clint Dyer
Sebastian Koch
Olivier Schneider
Stipe Erceg

Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) and his wife Elizabeth (Jones) arrive in Berlin for a swanky bio-technology conference where there is going to be a major announcement. When they get to the hotel, he realizes he’s left his briefcase at the airport. While his wife checks in, he catches a taxi to go retrieve the case, without telling her. On the way, the cab he’s riding in has a horrible but spectacular accident. He survives, but goes into a coma. When he comes to, no one knows who he is, including Elizabeth. She’s even with a guy who claims to be her husband, the real Dr. Martin Harris (Quinn). With no ID and no one to corroborate his story, he can’t prove otherwise. As if that weren’t enough, a couple of henchmen are following him around trying to kill him. I hate when that happens.

In an effort to reclaim his identity, Martin retraces his steps, looks for clues, etc. He also recruits Gina (Kruger), the cabbie, to help his cause. Of course, they have to survive the occasional run-in with the aforementioned henchmen. They also uncover things that seem to explain what’s going on. Before you know it, we’re watching The Bourne Identity starring Liam Neeson. Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly as innovative as that was when it came out. To be sure, it does some things well and manages a bit of excitement. However, it never escapes Matt Damon’s shadow.

For that matter, it doesn’t escape Neeson’s own shadow. More specifically, the one cast by the movie Taken. Whatever its flaws, Taken is a fun, no-holds barred action flick. In it, Neeson kicks a lot of ass and establishes himself as a genre star. Unknown seems to owe its existence to that movie. Alas, Unknown is not Taken. It drags things out a bit where that movie is concise, insistent on not letting us catch our breath. As I implied earlier, this actually takes more cues from the Bourne series. It executes many of the same moves, just not as good.

None of this is to say, Unknown is a bad movie. It’s not. There is certainly fun to be had. This is especially true if you’re looking for a movie where Liam Neeson barks lines in his megaphonic voice and beats down baddies, this is a solid choice. You’ll get what you came for. To continue the time-honored tradition of talking out of both sides of my mouth, even ardent fans of the actor probably won’t call this a masterpiece. It gives us a few thrills and an interesting finale. We’ll just forget about it not long after it’s over.

MY SCORE: 6/10

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