Movie Review Rewind: Unknown (2011)
Unknown has been given another name by some: Taken 2. Now I understand the comparison, but it’s not a fair one. Taken is a straightforward, no-holds-barred story about a man getting his daughter back. But Unknown has a different pace and the star of both films, Liam Neeson, isn’t on the hunt to kill. Instead, he is trying to regain his identity while searching for the truth. The tone is different in this movie and while it is a good action thriller with a twist, Unknown does not have the punch Taken does.
Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) and his wife (January Jones) travel to Berlin for business and when Harris realizes he left his briefcase at the airport, he goes back to get it. While en route, he is in a car wreck that leaves him in a coma for four days. When he wakes up, he goes to find his wife who now does not recognize him and, to his surprise, another Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn).
Harris tries to prove who he is but he has no identification and no passport, so no one believes him. The only help he is able to find is from the woman (Diane Kruger) who was driving the taxi when they wrecked. They begin to trace his steps backwards trying to figure out who he is and who is after him.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed the creepy yet stylish horror film Orphan, wants to keep you on the edge of your seat while trying to figure out where this movie is heading. And he does a nice job of that to a certain degree. However, some things seem so implausible it is tough to take it as seriously as Collet-Serra may want you to. But he does deliver when it comes to action/fighting scenes and car chasing sequences. Whether you believe in what is going on or not, it stays entertaining almost all the way through.
Unknown would not have hardly anything to brag about if it wasn’t for having Neeson in it. Who was to play the character of Dr. Martin Harris would have decided whether this movie would get a theatrical run or go straight-to-DVD. Luckily, Neeson took on the role to extend his career in the action genre and there is something about his look and mannerisms that keep the audience interested even if they should not be.
No matter what kind of chaos is going on around him, somehow Neeson manages to keep the movie grounded. He definitely elevates the movie in a positive way. The rest of the cast play their parts, but this is Neeson’s movie. He shines in Taken and now in this.
The most important thing to do when you go see Unknown is to watch it without thinking too hard about what is happening. It is best to let the movie play itself out and simply wait for the twist at the end (it’s a pretty good one). You may expect some of what happens but not all of it. Neeson has reached a new audience with his new job in action movies (Taken, A-Team, Clash of the Titans).
But, I have a feeling that people will only remember Unknown because they will get it confused with Taken. Once they figure it out, they will want to watch Taken again.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter @SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.