Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Unknown has one of the more intriguing premises of any movie in recent memory. They don't really do a ton with it but excellent action scenes and Liam Neeson's continued storied acting make this otherwise average movie into a worthy followup to Taken. Additionally the supporting cast, save for one, is outstanding almost universally. For some odd reason shaky cam has infiltrated most action movies over the past 5 years despite it discombobulating any and all action scenes, but this movie actually avoids that quite well. While there is something of a dearth for action in the first hour or so of the film at the end there is ultimately a satisfactory amount and every single scene is well shot.

Bruno Ganz, aka Hitler, is a former communist secret police agent who assists Liam Neeson in identifying who he actually is after Liam loses his memory in a car crash and winds up being impersonated at a biotech conference. He is outstanding in every scene he's in despite only being in about 10 minutes of the film, as is Frank Langella who only appears right toward the end. Diane Kruger is actually in Germany for the first time ever, but turns out not to be German despite being German as she plays the cab driver that crashes the car and afterwards saves Liam Neeson's life before fleeing the crime scene. All three of these actors do exceptionally well, and even the silent, dangerous pursuers of Liam seem to fulfill their roles quite well even if they aren't visually imposing.

So, who then dares act incompetently in this film? Was there any doubt, it's January Jones from Madmen who can't act worth shit. Fortunately she doesn't really have to act in this movie and mostly just stands around looking pretty, though toward the end there is one particularly bad scene with her in a stairwell; albeit something quite satisfying happens immediately afterward that makes one forget such troublesome trespasses. I don't think it would have changed the movie much to have another good actress in this mostly silent role so that seems fine.

Critics felt about the same about this movie as they felt about taken (within 1%) which was extremely mixed in reviews. I feel this movie is just as good as Taken and the feasibility of the plot twists is actually enhanced compared to that film. Of course you won't see the plot twist coming since it is completely out of nowhere with no real indication of what's actually going on up to that point. They do a good job of highlighting a bunch of alternative scenarios for you but don't have any shred of foreshadowing to the actual situation, and I suppose foreshadowing is not mandatory in films.

Overall this is a very good film for mid-February and while it has very little chance of matching Taken's success (which was achieved by staying in Theaters for over a year) it still made me quite content even though I had anticipated its arrival for 2 months. I do not think Battle: LA is going to be better so if you only see one movie before May make sure it's this one. Liam Neeson remains one of the finest actors in Hollywood and I will almost certainly watch whatever next Euro-Action/Thriller he does next, though I suppose people want him to take other roles as well. He is excellent in most every film I've seen him in so I have no argument with wanting him to fulfill a variety of roles, but unfortunately he was already in Batman Begins so hope for continued enhancement of that series is fading.

Final Score:8.5/10

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