Jaume Collet-Serra is back with a movie almost less plausible than his ORPHAN flick (our review) but luckily a tad more entertaining. UNKNOWN is a paranoid thriller starring Liam Neeson as Dr. Martin Harris, an American botanist in Berlin with his wife (the lifeless but beautiful January Jones) to speak at a global biotech summit.
Before he is able to check into his room, he realizes he’s left his briefcase at the airport and leaves his wife behind to retrieve it. On the way, the cab he is in, driven by Gina (the squandered Diane Kruger), is involved in an accident that plunges the taxi into a river. Gina is able to pull Dr. Harris from the sinking cab, but he falls into a coma.
When he wakes up four days later, his memory is a bit sketchy, but he quickly makes his way back to the hotel to reunite with his wife. But she has no idea who he is when he finds her, and even introduces him to her husband, the real Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn).
This leaves Dr. Harris awfully confused as he lumbers around the streets of Berlin with no proof of his identity and wondering if that nasty bump he received on the noggin’ may not have scrambled his brains. But after tracking down the cab driver who saved his life and running into some mysterious thugs, Dr. Harris is positive he’s not crazy and sets out to prove who he is while unraveling the conspiracy that has taken everything from him. Check out the trailer:
Now, before anyone gets too excited, this is not TAKEN (our review) with a dash of amnesia and despite the movie poster’s depiction, Liam never once wields a gun. So if you are going into this to watch Neeson kick some ass as he tries to regain his identity, you are in for a long, disappointing ride. It tries its best to keep up with other memory loss films like MEMENTO and THE BOURNE IDENTITY but lacks both the brains and the good action to such a degree that the ending is a welcome one.
Like ORPHAN, the clues in UNKNOWN are dropped shrewdly in hopes of masking the paper-thin script while keeping the audience from asking too many questions regarding the glaring plotholes with one loud, suspense-less chase scene after another.
Because we watched Dr. Harris and his wife as they arrived in Berlin, we, like Neeson’s character, are pretty sure his wife is lying about knowing him. Either because she wants to or is being forced to. But for anyone familiar with these types of films, one in particular I won’t name because it would spoil this entire movie, it won’t be hard to figure out exactly what is going on…although it’s a long time before Dr. Harris does.
So whether or not you figure out what is happening a third of the way in, you’re still left with a lot of time to fill between the setup and the fairly decent final act. This consists of Neeson traversing the streets of Berlin trying to put the pieces together via awkward flashbacks of Neeson and Jones in the shower where Jones look like she’s being sexually assaulted by a giant.
He eventually employs the help of the cab driver who saved him as well as an ex-Stasi spy turned P.I. played by Bruno Ganz (DOWNFALL), one of the few bright spots in the entire film along with a car chase and a scene Ganz shares with Frank Langella near the end of the film.
I can’t recommend much about UNKNOWN, aside from it having Liam Neeson in it, as it all just seems so damn familiar. That is, unless you’re flipping through the cable channels on a rainy day and are in the mood to kill some time with a barely passable, wholly unremarkable thriller.
Rating:Tags: Crime, movie, review, thriller