After a hiatus due to tragic personal issues, Liam Neeson returned to the business of making movie magic with this thriller – and he shows no signs of slowing down since. Now three years later, following his last action-packed film Taken, he takes on a character who is living another's life. But whose?
With a profession that requires copious amounts of travel and various public speaking engagements prominent scientist Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) is on a plane to Berlin with his loving wife Liz (January Jones). The two are traveling overseas to a biotechnology summit. Amidst the work, speeches and lunches, the couple still plan on playing the role of normal tourists; before they even arrive at the hotel the two have already set a plan to enjoy some of the sights together. After checking into their hotel, Martin realizes that he forgot his briefcase at the airport. Frantic over his carelessness, he doesn’t bother telling his wife that he is running an errand and instead nabs a cab back to retrieve the luggage holding all the information about his work. On the way there, a terrible car crash occurs putting Martin in a four-day coma. When he awakes, details are sketchy but he pieces enough together to make it back to the hotel, and when spotting Liz is overjoyed to be reunited with her. His relief is short-lived when Liz denies knowing Martin and instead introduces the man at her side as the “real” Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn).
Martin sets out to prove to everyone he is who he claims to be. Along the way he requires the help of a feisty cab driver (Diane Kruger) who has a secret of her own.
Identity is important to one’s sanity – not just literally a name on a document but understanding and knowing oneself is important. Most of us won't deal with the same sort of adrenaline rush that Neeson has branded in order to uncover our identity, but at some point or another, we might question ourselves. The premise of Unknown is an interesting, compelling story. Only be forewarned, the movie isn’t nearly as thrilling as it depicts itself. There is something about it that keeps you on the edge of your seat through no thanks to some awkward filmmaking and slow pacing. For, probably the first forty-five to sixty minutes, the story doesn’t pace itself well – it's sluggish and sometimes a little disinteresting. That sounds harsher than I probably was thinking at the time, but once it settles in and more snippets further establish facts about Martin as pieces of his past are revealed, all bets are off, and the script really sets a good stage. Writers chose an ambiguous twist once everything (the mystery, the answers) started unraveling, but there isn’t any doubt as to the storyline once credits role.
Lacking the debonair of say, a James Bond flick or the intelligence of the Bourne movies, still this has a good cover to its plot and is tightly wrapped in mysterious events that don't always mean the result is perfect, plus Neeson stars (duh!). Its casting is phenomenal and even Frank Langella co-stars in a small but important role. Anyone who liked Taken (highly recommended to those who love adrenaline rushes; it is memorable) will likely enjoy this. It has a lot of recognizable twists and turns that might seem familiar to The Bourne Identity considering its hero deals with a memory loss. Unknown is certainly worth a rental fee, although the fact that the hero might not be who he says he is could be more of an irritant to some, rather than good suspense.
(PG13 content: There are some intense moments and swearing [GD and Jesus is used inappropriately]. Intense sequences include a hand-to-hand fight scene, then a man is crushed between two cars [a van careens over the edge with a person inside]; the “final” scene is the most “graphic” with shards of glass used as weapons and various other techniques. One huge explosion is experienced, and there is a dramatic car chase and accident. At least seven people die [one has her neck snapped, others are poisoned, still another is blown up, off-screen]; men wield guns and one man tries to kill someone by pumping a drug into their system. Many people are threatened with knives and/or guns; others are kicked, punched and stabbed. One semi-steamy sex scene takes place in the shower [nudity is shoulders and up, but the camera just barely avoids female nudity in one shot]; its length is shortened, but we see it over and over in flashbacks.)