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Film Review: Liam Neeson Fails to Find Missing Identity of ‘Unknown’

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CHICAGO – “Unknown,” the latest thriller to attempt to turn Liam Neeson into an unusual choice for an action star (a la “Taken” and “The A-Team”), is one of those films that nearly works but falls just short of its audience’s expectations. The elements are there — a (mostly) strong ensemble, an interesting concept, an intriguing location, a promising director — but the film never comes together because the script needed one more rewrite that it just never received. “Unknown” is a near-miss with elements that might make it an entertaining rental or catch on cable but not enough personality to recommend it in theaters.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

Part of the problem with “Unknown” is on a purely structural level. If you’ve seen the commercials, you know the basic concept already but, if you’ve seen a movie before, you’ll probably figure out the “twist” mere moments into this purported thriller. I won’t spoil it here, but there’s a much better version of “Unknown” that doesn’t rely so heavily on the modern need to have a final act twist to keep audiences engaged. The revelation in “Unknown” is about as predictable as the knowledge that the two stars of a romantic comedy will get together just before the credits. It’s purely a waiting game. And one that becomes less interesting as ite hero comes to realizations you’ll have come to an hour ago.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Unknown” in our reviews section.

Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) arrive in Berlin for an international Biotech conference. He leaves a briefcase at the airport and is forced to go back and get it while his wife checks in at their hotel. On the way there, in a cab driven by a gorgeous illegal immigrant (Diane Kruger), Harris gets into a horrible car accident and crashes into the river. After four days in a coma, he wakes up to the startling realization that no one came to look for him, including his wife. When he finds her at their hotel, she not only claims to have no idea who he is but introduces the man on her arm to security as the real Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn).

After a few panicked altercations, Martin starts to wonder if he’s going crazy. As he sees Quinn’s mug on the web page for his job, looks at his doppelganger’s identification, and becomes increasingly convinced that perhaps he is NOT Martin Harris, he wonders if he’s going insane. Of course, that changes when someone tries to kill him and he realizes that he’s not crazy, just a loose end. He finds the only person who might be able to put some of the puzzle pieces together in the cab driver and gets assistance from a wonderful ex-Stazi turned detective (a movie-stealing Bruno Ganz) and gets closer to the final revelation that most people in the audience will have figured out from the previews.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Unknown” review.

“Unknown” stars Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Sebastian Koch, and Bruno Ganz. It was written by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell. It was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. It was released in theaters on February 18th, 2011. It is rated PG-13 and runs 113 minutes.

Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Елена's picture

Very interesting

Very interesting review. Thank you very much.

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