Movie Review: Unknown (2011)
“Take back your life.”
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones
Synopsis: A businessman recovers from a coma following a car crash to discover that his wife doesn’t recognise him and another man has assumed his identity.
The problem for movies that base their entire story on a seemingly insoluble mystery is that the reveal is almost always too far-fetched to be believable, as is the case with Jaume Collet-Serra’s Unknown. Liam Neeson (Non-Stop, Run All Night) plays a businessman who is involved in a car crash during a trip to a biotechnology summit in Berlin with his wife (January Jones) that leaves him in a hospital without identification. After awakening from a four-day coma, he discovers that his wife no longer recognises him and an impostor has assumed his identity.
Get out of that.
You can tell that co-writers Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell know the reveal is going to be a far-fetched let-down by the way they spend as long milking the initial premise for all it’s worth. The story moves at a relentless pace, filled with action set-pieces every ten minutes or so and piling mystery upon mystery before the late appearance of one particular character that will immediately set any seasoned movie-goer’s alarm bells ringing. So, we’re probably 90 minutes into Unknown before the reveal, which, because of the complexities of the plot, means we then have to sit through another thirty minutes or so of action-packed but still relatively uninteresting story before we can get to the happy-ish ending.
Neeson’s fine as the hapless scientist who finds himself adrift in Berlin without friends or money, and he receives able support from a second-tier cast. The Berlin location shoot is eye-catching – if a little grey – but the plot holes are gargantuan. Unknown won’t bore or annoy you, but neither will it make you particularly glad you watched.
(Reviewed 31st January 2012)