Unknown (2011) – Film Review

Liam Neeson is replaced by Aidan Quinn...

Liam Neeson and January Jones star in the forgettable (arf) Unknown. After a car crash robs him of both his wife and his identity, Neesons’ Martin Harris must uncover the people trying to change his life.

From the fateful uttering of ‘I promise’ it’s easy to tell in which direction Unknown will travel. Reminiscent of Neeson’s Taken, but lacking its style and well choreographed fight scenes, the film lurches from one event to another, stringing them together with a loose story of identity theft. Berlin is, from the off, portrayed as an inhospitable and uninviting place and the moment Harris realises his briefcase is missing things are just a little too predictable.

Neeson’s week gets gradually worse; surviving a car crash only to find his wife with a man claiming to be the real Martin Harris, he finds himself drugged, chased as well as discovering some hidden fighting talent. Hearing a loved one utter ‘do I know you?’ would be enough to make anyone’s heart plummet but Neeson sucks it up and instantly goes in search of himself and the taxi driver (Diane Kruger) who careened off course. The two of them find themselves embroiled in something neither could have imagined… unless one of them (we’re looking at you, Neeson) hadn’t lost their head in the crash.

We watch as the paranoia sets in and the loose secrets surrounding Neeson’s true identity are unveiled thanks to some well-placed flashbacks. Desperate phone calls and red herrings abound but the ultimate exposition is predictable whilst the journey toward it is sometimes meandering. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t entertain.

Whilst the film may sometimes feels like an elongated advert for Blackberry and the strange camera angles don’t always add anything to the film neither of these will put Neeson fans off watching Unknown. Fast becoming an action hero in his own right, Neeson is a cinema’s dark horse. Most may remember him for his role as Qui Jon Jin in The Phantom Menace whilst others will think of his impressive role in Schindler’s List. Recent roles, however, have seen Neeson find his niche. Starring as Rah’s Al Gul in Nolan’s Batman universe whilst also starring in the aforementioned Taken, Neeson tackles action impressively and is a draw for many a film fan.

For all of its flaws, Unknown is nonetheless an interesting film filled with spies, explosions and fisticuffs and will be well received by fans of Taken.


Best line: ‘These people may be good but they’re not God’.

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