You could say I went into UNKNOWN very “unknowingly” with the plot being absolutely “unknown” to me, but then you would be a terrible punster. Yes, I did not know much about the film, which I think can be beneficial most of the time. However, in the case of UNKNOWN, I still felt unsatisfied and empty through a topic that we have all seen before.
Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife (January Jones) have just arrived in Berlin for business. After arriving at their hotel and realizing some luggage is missing, Dr. Harris jumps into another cab in hopes of retrieving it at the airport. Unfortunately, a bad accident occurs leaving Harris in a three-day coma. When he awakes, his identity appears to be lost. His wife has no recollection of him and is married to a different Dr. Harris (Aidan Quinn). The only person that has any knowledge of the incident is the cabbie (Diane Kruger) who saved him. Neeson’s Dr. Harris must figure out why his life has been replaced and his memory is questioned while avoiding death from the hands of mysterious killers.
Maybe I shouldn’t have recently sat through a marathon of the Bourne films because there are some similarities that make UNKNOWN feel like a much slower paced knock-off. Nothing ever felt quite right with the film causing an unsurprising revelation. Foreseeing an outcome isn’t always a bad thing as long as the journey is fun. Unfortunately the journey was flat focusing more about the gradual discovery that never felt too surprising as it unraveled.
Taking on the role of the unlikely hero, Liam Neeson is wonderful as usual. But even his character is a less savvy version of his father out for a vengeance character from TAKEN. After her amazing performance in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, I’m glad to see Diane Kruger in another supporting role, but I can’t help hoping for something better for her. Frank Langella is commanding in his small part but felt underutilized. I don’t like over bashing actors unless there is a true need for it, so I will just say that I’m not sold on January Jones. I don’t know how she is on Mad Men but I’m guessing she was cast for her classic beauty and not her acting talent. For me her performance is what gives away the big mystery, however some of the fault may lie with direction by Jaume Collet-Serra. Overall his vision is strong, changing up the look by using different colors or heightened hues through each scene. But the creativity and energy in the actual action is missing.
UNKNOWN isn’t a terrible movie and maybe under different circumstances I may have liked it more. I respect the idea behind the film and enjoy Liam Neeson’s new turn as a leading tail kicker. Nonetheless, the supposed suspense never quite took off for me, which I blame on the lack of action and familiarity with films who have achieved similar goals far better.
Video: (1080p High Definition 2.4:1) A solid picture.
Audio: (DTS-HD MA 5.1) A very decent sound.
Liam Nieson Know Action Hero (4:33): Everyone talks about working with the actor and wanting him for the part.
Unknown: What Is Known (4:24) This rehashes some of the clips used in the previous featturette but this time everyone discusses the movie and their own parts.