After the success of the 2008 kidnapping-thriller, Taken, Liam Neeson became an action hero. Although a different type of badass, Neeson excited fans when his new film, Unknown gave us a feeling that this could be similar to the blockbuster hit Taken. I will tell you right now: if you go into Unknown expecting a ‘Taken‘ experience, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for an above average thriller that should keep you guessing all the way through, then Unknown is worth the two hours, and ten bucks from your wallet.
The initial marketing campaign for this film obviously was shooting for the ‘Taken’ audience as the poster for the film depicts Liam Neeson with a violent glare and a pistol in hand. The poster does not really suit the film. Attempting not to spoil the movie I will do my best to be vague on plot details, but this is definitely a movie that relies on a heavy plot twist.
With that in mind, the one thing you need to know about Unknown is that the movie is absolutely ridiculous. It fails to tell a compelling story as it completely relies on the twist to “tell the story.” When you watch the movie you will know what I mean.
Liam Neeson stars as Dr Martin Harris, a bio-tech chemist from New Hampshire who, along with his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) will be speaking at a convention in Berlin, Germany. Shortly after arriving from the airport to their hotel, Dr Harris realizes he left his briefcase back at the airport and hops a taxi in a rush to retrieve it. Driven by Diane Kruger, the taxi is involved in a severe auto accident which sends Dr. Harris into a 4 day coma. Waking up with little memory he must piece together what has happened. But there is one catch –nobody knows who he is. Even his own wife.
Another man has taken over his identity (as you see from the trailer, where Neeson frantically attempts to explain that he is her husband.) Martin must now prove his identity and reclaim his life, all while trying to piece together what has happened as he is suffering from amnesia. Along for the ride is the taxi driver (Diane Kruger) who was the last person to be with Harris before he the accident. She helps Harris figure out this mess he is in and serves as the only ally the amnesic doctor can rely on.
So that is the convoluted set-up for the film. On paper it sounds absurd, and it doesn’t play out much better on screen, However I will stand behind this movie because it did the one thing it set out to do: entertain me. The true definition of a popcorn flick, Unknown works (as did Taken) because of Liam Neeson. Any other actor in this role would not have brought the intensity that Neeson does to every role he takes on. From a frantic father who is in search for his kidnapped daughter in Taken, to a doctor who cannot remember what has happened after a bad car accident, both of Neeson’s roles involve a man who is ready to snap at any moment.
Audiences may not enjoy the slow pace and development of Unknown which lacks very much action. But don’t be fooled, this movie is an enjoyable suspenseful thriller that packs the right punch and for this moviegoer, had me on the edge of my seat until the end credits. And that is what going to the movies is all about, right?