Unknown – Review


Is Liam Neeson’s latest worth seeing? That answer will remain unknown unless you check inside.

If you’ve ever lost a piece of luggage at the airport, you know how frustrating, and inconvenient it can be, especially if you‘re on foreign soil when it happens. Now, what if on your way back to retrieve your bag you were in an accident, went into a coma, only to awake four days later with your memory in disarray, no identification and a wife that not only doesn’t know who you are, but is also married to another man who has the same name as you. That’d be a bit more inconvenient, wouldn’t it?

This is the exact stage that is set before Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) in the new suspense/thriller Unknown, a film that quickly pulls you in, and through precision storytelling, keeps you guessing every step of the way. Delving into the story too much would only take away from the shroud of mystery that covers the films solid plot, and if done right, films that have a main character suffering from amnesia can be quite entertaining for audiences, as they get to try and solve the puzzle along with the hero as they try and piece their life back together. Unknown does it right.

With the basics of the story, and pretty much all you need to hear in order to know if this film is for you or not, written above, let’s touch on a few of the problems found in the film. First, many people may go into this expecting Taken 2, and while I’d love to see that character revisited down the road, Unknown is more about deciphering the mystery than it is about the action. That’s not to say there isn’t action, as there are a number of great car chases to be found throughout; however, in a film that feels as though it wants to be seen from a semi-realistic perspective, there are a few head-shaking moments where you may find yourself channeling Seth Green’s character from Austin Powers at the bad guys in the film. “What? Why don’t you just kill him?”

Another problem would be in some of the camera work during the fight scenes. Director Juame Collete-Serra chose to go the shaky-cam route in what seemed like an attempt to get the viewer right in the middle of the action; however, quick cuts, and choppy editing caused the reverse, sometimes separating the viewer from the fight in an attempt to figure out who was doing what, and to whom.

The good news is that these issues are minimal, and with the main focus of the film being Harris trying to figure out what’s going on in his life, or what’s left of it, these petty action squabbles (while worth noting) don’t detract from the overall intriguing experience the film delivers. The story, based on the novel “Out of My Head,” by Didier Van Cauwelaert, is incredibly well structured, as any good mystery should be, with a main character that we want to see succeed, and instantly gains our sympathy, which is another must in order for this type of film to thrive.

Even with all the film has going for it, it takes the right actor to step into the role and make it all believable, and Neeson once again never ceases to amaze me. He’s one of those rare actors who can bring it to any level, in any genre, and make it look easy. From Schindler’s List to The Phantom Menace, there aren’t many types of roles that Neeson hasn’t tapped into, and although he’s done more than many actors could ever hope to accomplish, it really hasn’t been until recently that he’s finally begun to be recognized by audiences for the total package that he is.

While I’m not a fan of trailers falsely advertising a film as one thing and then delivering something else entirely, I can see why the studio decided to hit more of the action notes in order to sell Unknown to audiences. This is one case where I don’t have an issue, as the film actually does deliver a healthy enough dose of action to go along with its captivating thriller of a story that it will no doubt please fans of both genres. One thing is certain, if Taken didn’t already do it, this film will make it so that Neeson will never have to worry about being unknown again.

Director: Juame Collete-Serra
Notable Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones
Writer(s): Oliver Butcher & Stephen Cornwell

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