Unknown is the twisting and turning story of Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his struggle to discover his identity. Not just Martin Harris, mind you. I’m attempting to get you ready to hear that quite a bit, because he drills the word “Doctor” into your brain. Not since Shutter Island’s “Duly Appointed Marshall” have I heard so much repetition. Anyway, Dr. Martin Harris gets into one nasty car wreck after arriving in Berlin, leaving him a little shaken and completely replaced in his life by an impostor! Gadzooks! With his wife denying their marriage, a somewhat less good looking guy living his life as Dr. Martin Harris and shady assassins around every corner, Liam has gotten himself into a big ‘ol pickle!
The story was interesting at first, with your brain trying to figure out why all of this is happening. Unfortunately, the film starts dropping big hints about the real plot early in. We had the end figured out about thirty-five minutes into the movie. Another odd thing about this movie is that about halfway through, it stops being a thriller. Instead, it finishes out like a James Bond flick. You go from creepy feelings to blinking lights and super corn…I made that corn thing up…or did I?! See?! That was what I wanted out of this movie: uncertainty. The plot itself is well thought out, but has a problem with predictability and uniformity to many similar movies before it. Even so, I still have to give them credit for doing a pretty good job of being suspenseful and mysterious in the first part. I remember they consistently used a slight twist on the camera when showing Dr. Martin Harris, giving that slight unease during the scene.
I can’t say that the acting was great in this movie, but I can’t say that it was anywhere near bad. It just seemed like the actors were all too familiar with these kinds of roles. Liam has obviously grown into Harrison Ford’s “GIVE ME BACK MY FAMILY” character; Frank Langella did a good job being the creepy older guy with secrets and Aidan Quinn….well, I actually don’t know jack-shit about Aidan Quinn. But, he seemed to fit into his character. I think I was a little let down by the performance of January Jones. Not that I can really blame her because she was acting like a character who was acting like she was who she was, but you don’t really know if she is who she is or if she’s pretending to be someone else, while pretending to be herself. That’s a pretty big cluster of a character to play. Luckily, I can say that I really enjoyed the performance of Bruno Ganz as an aging East German Secret Policeman. He had such a believability to the way he played the role, it made me want him in every scene.
Unknown‘s action was quite well done, keeping your interest, but it seemed to have so much action that I got desensitized to it. Much like Neeson’s previous film, Taken, it seemed to be a giant chase sequence with a story that goes along with it. On a side note, Unknown was a fairly serious movie, but I couldn’t help get drawn out of it every so often by very strange occurrences. For instance, both Dr. Martin Liam Harreeson and Gina (Diane Kruger) are expert drivers. Not just decent, but they could whip their cars around like they could do it in their sleep. Also, Gina was able to hear a light scuffle in a parking garage about one-hundred feet away – while she was driving her car with the windows up! I can’t even hear if I still have my turn signal blinking after a turn, how does she have the ability to hear a turtle fart from fifty feet away? My personal favorite oddity in this film is a particular scene where Dr. Martin Harris is taking a shower, when he hears someone silently break into the apartment. Now, the intruder begins to walk the fifteen feet to the bathroom and opens the door to find nothing but the window open! Given the fact that the good doctor had about 11 seconds to figure out what he could even do, I assumed that the next scene would be of him buck-naked on the roof. Strangely enough, when you see him, he’s fully dressed and dried! That was one hell of a quick change.
All in all, Unknown wasn’t the best thriller, nor was it the best spy movie or action movie. It seemed like they tried to have so many genres in this one film, that it came out a little muddled. If you liked Taken, you’ll enjoy Unknown. It’s got a fast pace, great leading actor and enough explosions and intrigue to fill an hour and a half. Just don’t be shocked if you find it easy to figure out and get a little bored.
I give Unknown 3 “Deadly Fridges” out of 5