Here’s the official synopsis:
The star of Taken and The A-Team jumps back into action with brute force! Liam Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, who awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (January Jones) suddenly doesn’t recognize him and another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired and on the run. Aided by an unlikely ally (Diane Kruger), Harris plunges into a deadly mystery forcing him to question his sanity, his identity and just how far he’s willing to go to uncover the truth.
Cast: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Diane Kruger
Written By: Oliver Butcher & Stephen Cornwell
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Even from the very first trailer, this film seemed to give off a Taken vibe. Honestly, that didn’t bother me one bit. I loved Taken and thought it was an incredibly well done movie. So I was very excited to check out Unknown, to see how well this movie stacked up in Liam Neeson’s sudden turn in the action movie world (something I wish he would have done more of when he was younger!).
I have to say that it seems like the Taken-esque quality of the film was purposefully driven, as throughout the movie, I found a lot of similarities in tone as well as the action that takes place. It’s almost as if the filmmakers knew it had worked with Liam Neeson before, and they wanted to capitalize on it. For the most part they did pretty well, but the story is definitely not on par with Taken.
The movie was very entertaining and kept me guessing the entire time. On the whole, just when you think you’ve got things figured out, something changes and you’re left once again in the dark. In this way, the writers did a great job of that…up until a certain point. I was really digging all of the set-up they had, and eventually the story came to a point where you can figure out exactly what is going on. While this came on naturally, about 5 minutes later the movie decided they had to beat you over the head with the revelation.
At this point, just about all of the subtlety they had working for it disappeared, and as they explained every single detail of what had happened and why things had happened, I found myself bored. Not because the information isn’t valid, but any viewer who was paying attention could have drawn these conclusions themselves. It’s one of my favorite things to do with these type of mystery stories. If there was something I missed, it’s great to go back and re-watch it, in order to see how everything lined up and the real depth behind the film.
Unknown, doesn’t give you that chance. Instead it acts like you’re the dumbest movie-watcher who has to be spoon-fed all the information or you just won’t get it. It’s kind of annoying and they do this twice.
Still, it’s a fun movie, with action that will keep you entertained and once again wishing Liam Neeson had found his penchant for action movies earlier. The acting is pretty damn good throughout. I can’t say there were any performances that I found particularly lacking. Even January Jones, who I felt was the only weak part of X-Men First Class, did a fine job here and seemed more than one-dimensional.
The filmmaking was pretty good to, and outside of borrowing heavily from Taken’s aesthetics and beating you over the head with the revelations, it’s a solid movie with solid filmmaking. The biggest problem, is the same problem inherent in all of these kinds of mystery movies. Once the mystery has been revealed and all aspects of it have been explained…there is very little reason to come back to this movie. While the set-up and all of that is great the first time watching it, there’s nothing to hold on to the second time around.
While the action is fun to watch, it too is based largely on what the audience doesn’t know. Meaning that there is way more tension in the action sequences when you’re still just as confused as the characters.
It’s a fun movie and definitely worth your time. Liam Neeson does a great job once again, and the story has enough substance to keep you watching through to the end, just to see how it all goes down. Sadly, it just doesn’t have enough to it in order to sustain multiple viewings.
Unknown (which is now available on DVD/Blu-Ray, iTunes, and On Demand) gets a 7.5 out of 10.