Unknown (with Liam Neeson)
Dr. Martin Harris is flying in to Berlin with his wife for a conference but when he arrives at his hotel he realizes they forgot a bag at the airport. On the way there he’s involved in an accident and then wakes up four days later in the Hospital. Upon returning to the hotel he discovers that not only is someone else is claiming to be him but his own wife doesn’t even recognize him. Frustrated and doubting his own sanity, Dr. Harris begins to retrace his steps in hopes of figuring out what’s happening to him.
Before he got involved with big name films like THE PHANTOM MENACE and BATMAN BEGINS, Liam Neeson was a household name of sorts due to films like ROB ROY, SHINDLER’S LIST and of course DARKMAN but in my opinion it wasn’t until TAKEN that people actually started turning heads when his name was brought up. The man’s a great actor and the action genre fits him like a glove but again, I feel that it was his performance in TAKEN that really hit that point home. I’ve said for awhile now that Hollywood’s been hard up for solid action stars this past decade and I think this is another reason why Mr. Neeson’s been given the green light on so many action fronts. I’m not complaining though because when I see the man’s name on an action vehicle I know I’m in for hell of a ride and on that level, UNKNOWN was good times.
UNKNOWN is not TAKEN when it comes down to storyline but the tone is there and that’s clearly what they’re going for. The intensity doesn’t get turned up until Dr. Harris’ return to the Hospital (which sadly is about twenty minutes or so in) but from there it’s an adrenaline fueled stint across a theme park full of roller coasters that doesn’t let up until the film ends. Now as the film’s title implies, there’s lots going on that I could ruin with the slightest hint, nudge or word so I’m trying to choose them carefully. Suffice to say I felt like I was enjoying THE GAME (on my favorite flicks of all time) at some points of this film and that’s definitely a good thing. There’s a certain level of intrigue here that keeps you interested regardless of the fact that this feels like familiar territory.
Now the one aspect of the film I both loved and hated were those behind the situation of sorts. I love Frank Langella (ever since he played Skeletor) and lately he seems like the go to guy for creepy villains. What he is and does here is cool, I loved the backdrop storyline and as much as I want to open up that can of worms and dissect it a bit, I can’t without giving away too much of the plot. So instead I’ll just say that what’s being sold as a covert, no fail organization that’s been around forever sounds awesome at first but loses a bit of its credibility for me when it can be usurped and beaten by a dude with head trauma and a cab driver. That said, I’d fly to Berlin right now if I thought there was even a chance of being picked up Helen of Troy.
UNKNOWN is a cross between TAKEN and THE BOURNE IDENTITY with THE GAME playing in the background and I loved all those flicks so I didn’t mind in the slightest but for those of you who have a hard time rationalizing the abundant amount of suspension of disbelief needed to enjoy these carefully crafted tales, I can understand how you may scoff at the idea, especially when the punch line makes itself known. The characters were cool (Bruno Ganz stole the show for me, both his performance and candor were electrical) and though I dug the mystery, it all felt a bit too neat and tidy as the credits began to roll and I found myself thinking the same thing I did after watching SALT, I liked it but I’m not sure I bought it. But in the end I don’t have to believe it, I just have to enjoy it and that, I most certainly did.