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A movie directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.

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Entertaining thriller.

  • Jul 9, 2011
**1/2 out of ****

It doesn't take a person of extreme intelligence to realize that Liam Neeson is a registered ass-kicker. The 59-year-old actor has appeared in many very cool, and many very mediocre films; but he's almost always guaranteed to put on the best show of the entire product. "Unknown", his newest movie, is really nothing more-or-less different than the usual Neeson walk-about. The actor has a problem he must overcome. In the end, he ends up serving up sweet justice. We walk out of the theater having been entertained, at least mildly. Go us.

However, there is a problem with these movies; few of them are actually good. I can be entertained by a film, yes, but I can also prevent myself from regarding it as good. "Unknown" is admittedly a very well-done film on a technical scale. It is beautifully filmed; set in Berlin and damn proud of it, and well-acted from all ends. There are things to admire about the production and effort put into the film, but then there's this plot; oh that ever-so-distracting thing that almost always puts most movies off course.

Basically, "Unknown" is a better movie than I expected it to be, but just barely. I am giving it as much credit as I possibly can; it is an enjoyable formula thriller with no real bite and no real surprises. It unveils surprise-after-surprise-after-surprise, until we get bored and have to ask it, ever-so-kindly, to stop.

Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) travel to Berlin for a convention which Martin must attend. Soon after arriving, one of Martin's precious bags is forgotten at the airport (one that contained his passport, so basically, his identity). He takes a taxi to go back to the airport and retrieve it. He gets in an accident, and the taxi, with him in it, ends up underwater. But Martin is revived by its driver (Diane Kruger), and wheeled in to a hospital. This is where he wakes up, and has a lot of trouble remembering anything. Oh, and he has not yet retrieved his identity.

Martin goes to find his wife. He does indeed confront her at the hotel which they are staying at, but she acts as if she's never met him, and there is indeed another Martin Harris with her; claiming to be her husband. Obviously a case of identity theft, we would think, but then again, the two Martins look so different, how would the lady not be able to tell the difference? This seems like a pretty minor problem, although the character treats it like something very, very serious. Yes, he loves the woman, but so what; we can't invest in his turmoil.

Perhaps this is because the film does not want us to feel anything, emotionally, and this is one of its problems. I have no problem with how illogical the plot of "Unknown" may be, but when it comes to emotional resonance, it's quite low on fuel. We can't "feel" for Neeson's character or any other character. Yet, there are moments when they desperately cry for help, and we're supposed to weep along with them. These moments, simply put, just do not work.

As I mentioned earlier, "Unknown" looks outstanding. Flavio Labiano's cinematography deserves high praise, for he pays close attention to detail. Perhaps this is also due to the film's director, who might also like paying such attention. But who cares. "Unknown" is a flashy movie with entertainment value. I had a fun time watching it, as far as escapist entertainment goes, but it just wasn't good enough. If it has a fatal flaw, it is that it doesn't stop surprising. There are films in which I would admire this, but when you've got such fine performances on display, backed up by such fascinating direction and an ambitious premise such as this, you need more than just good actors and cinematographers. You also need good writers; and that is one thing that "Unknown" lacks.

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July 10, 2011
I liked this film, it was suspenseful and thrilling at times, it just lost some momentum when it started to wrap things up. Still a highly entertaining watch! Nice review!!
More Unknown (2011 movie) reviews
review by . February 20, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
After the simple and yet engaging action-thriller, Liam Neeson returns to the genre with director Jaume Collet-Serra’s (Orphan) “Unknown”. The film is based on a French novel by Didier Van Cauweleat called “Out of My Head” and has been given the staples of a Hollywood actioner with the elements of a Hitchcock tale. It is relentless, entertaining, suspenseful despite the fact that it may have overplayed the aces in its hand. It also helps when you have Liam Neeson in …
review by . July 14, 2011
Unknown might be the most preposterous movie of a year that most films decided to stop suspending disbelief and let it rest on the floor for a while. Common sense is left to drown in a sea of movie cliches and utter lunacy while plot holes make a Swiss cheese out of the script.      **THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD! **      Ok, if you know the movie's main trick, namely that it's a rip-off of Total Recall, you'll know that the entire film …
review by . February 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Unknown is an utterly preposterous film, but if you grant its assumptions, it will keep you engaged and take you on a thrilling ride. It stars Liam Neeson as Dr. Martin Harris, who travels to Berlin with his wife, Liz (January Jones), to speak at a biotechnology conference and meet a botanist who has made an important breakthrough. A cab ride back to the airport goes wrong; a truck loses its shipment, causing the cab to swerve off the road, zoom …
Quick Tip by . July 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Unfortunately, unlike his exhilarating revenge/rescue film Taken, this rather predictable and derivative action film starring Liam Neeson has little to offer in the way of originality or believability. The plot is outrageously silly and is very much reminiscent of The Fugitive and The Bourne Identity.      The story revolves around a man who comes to Germany with his wife to attend a scientific summit only to end up being involved in a car crash. When he comes to from a coma, …
review by . February 18, 2011
Two Jews On Film Review 'UNKNOWN'
What if you know deep down, who you really were, but couldn't prove it?  And what if someone else - someone you didn't know- claimed to be you and everyone believed him? That is the dilemma Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) faces in the film 'Unknown'.      Dr. Martin Harris, a botanist, arrives with his wife, Liz (January Jones) at the Hotel Adion in Berlin for a biotechnology summit.  When Martin realizes that his briefcase was left behind at the airport, …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


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 mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired, and on the run. Aided by an unlikely ally, Gina (Diane Kruger), Martin plunges headlong into a deadly mystery that will force him to question his sanity, his identity, and just how far he is willing to go to uncover the truth. In the end it is revealed that Martin Harris is actually a part of an assassination team. He loses his memory and begins to believe his cover after getting hurt in the car crash. The impostor is actually his backup on the team.
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Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: 18 February 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 113 min
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