Vic’s Review – “Unknown” (2011)

What’s it About?

A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, (not even his wife), believes him.

“Unknown” (2011)

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

“Unknown” is a thriller that is stitched together from pieces of other films that deal with mistaken identity and espionage. Not only full of plot holes but way too many plot twists. It takes off then slows down then races across the gamut of all old and modern thriller cliches. But the film plays it straight and though caught in implausible trappings it manages to still be a bit of a fine popcorn flick. Just go with it and maybe you’ll have some fun.

Liam Neeson (Taken) plays Dr Martin Harris who attends a BioTech conference with his wife (January Jones) in Berlin. While going back to the airport for a forgotten briefcase  he gets into an auto accident that leaves him in a coma for four days. He wakes and learns that no one, even his Wife, has been looking for him. And worst of all no one knows who he is and even his wife denies knowing him.

He also has been replaced by another Martin Harris played rather boringly by actor Aidan Quinn. (who does have a cool scene where he and Neeson say the same things at the same time as he tries to prove himself) His quest to find out what has happened, and who and why someone would replace him, leads him into much convoluted trouble with an assassin and the cab driver that saved his life.

Execution is not Unknown’s problem. It’s the predictability and the by the numbers plot twists that burdens it. Frank Langella is involved as a somewhat deceptive friend of Neeson’s who goes to his rescue. He is fun to watch but his screen time is very limited. Performances save the film though. Neeson is very passionate and believable in the role. He goes from desperate to empowered very quickly and with conviction. As more things are revealed the more Neeson runs the gamut eventually turning into an action star when he and Quinn go at it in the finale.

Even when the film hiccups we still are for some reason interested but we have seen it all before. I am reminded a bit of Polanski’s “Fragile” and an episode of “The Twilight Zone” where the main character wakes up and no one know who he is. But Unknown is a decent Saturday night flick that makes you think…but not too hard.

One comment

  1. OK… uncanny timing on this one because I just saw it Saturday when it premiered on HBO. I have a similar opinion on this. It was interesting in the beginning and then it just got absurd, like they completely ran out of ideas halfway through so they just contrived this whole espionage subplot in order to wrap up the story.

    ****SPOILER ALERT****
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    The biggest problem I have with the whole film was the plot device of the “magic corn” that the Big Agro wants to make sure never sees the light of day so they are willing to kill to prevent it from happening.

    First, corn is the most abundant grain on the planet because it pretty much grows anywhere under all conditions to begin with so I’m really not sure how much better a super corn could possibly be, but putting that aside, what the holy shit does it matter if the scientist gives away the patent for the formula for free? It still has to be produced so at the end of the day, Big Agro is who has the resources to mass-produce it and THEY would be the ones that would ultimately profit off of it! So, are we supposed to believe that Big Agro is saying, “We must kill these people to keep from making even bigger profits!” Huh? This is what happens when you let fourteen year-olds finish your screenplays.

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