Movie Review: Unknown (2011)

February 18, 2011 in Movie Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

I had been looking forward to seeing Liam Neeson’s latest thriller, Unknown, ever since I saw the trailer a few months ago.  It reminded me of Taken (another Neeson film), one of my surprise favourites from a couple of years back, with an compelling mystery anchoring the plot — a biologist visits Berlin with his wife and has an accident, and when he wakes up from a coma days later, another man has assumed his life.

Is there a conspiracy at play here, or has he lost his mind?  And what lengths will he go to in order to uncover the truth and take back his life?

For the most part, Unknown unfolds as expected.  Nothing appears to make sense, and it keeps you guessing whether what you’re seeing is real, imagined, or perhaps both.  At the same time, there is action, suspense and thrills, and plenty of it.  I can honestly say I was intrigued.

Of course, Liam Neeson is brilliant, but the supporting cast wasn’t too shabby either — Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, and Frank Langella.  Each actor/actress manages to put their stamp on their characters, even with limited screen time.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra (who directed the underrated Orphan) does a fairly good job here with some pretty farcical material (and I’m not just talking about how improbable it is for someone as attractive as Diane Kruger playing a taxi driver).

In less capable hands, Unknown could have easily spiralled out of control, but despite all the plot holes and unnecessary convolution in the unravelling of the mystery, the film manages to stay afloat and avoid total disaster.

Ordinarily, films with predicaments this bizarre can only end in bitter disappointment.  You’ll tend to be riveted by the mystery until you discover the truth, which is usually outrageous or silly or both, and the film just completely crumbles from that point on.  Surprisingly, Unknown‘s resolution is about as good as you can get for a film of this kind.  It’s not necessarily believable, but considering how far it takes you, it’s at least within the realm of possibility.  Or so I tell myself…

3.5 stars out of 5