Directed By Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Bruno Ganz and Frank Langella
Biochemist Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) is fresh off the plane in Berlin with wife Elizabeth (January Jones) to attend a prestigious science convention. A car accident later and he awakens to find his wife doesn’t know who he is and another man has apparently assumed his identity. While the authorities naturally assume he’s crazy, illegal immigrant cab driver Gina (Diane Kruger) and former Stasi P.I. Ernst Jürgen (Bruno Ganz) help him root out the truth and take his life back.
Unknown positions itself somewhere between Taken-style Euro-action film and Hitchcockian thriller, but manages to be an unhappy medium. Not propulsive or lean enough to deliver a top-tier action movie and not cerebral or tightly-plotted enough to work fully as a twisty thriller, Unknown tips its hand far too soon, leaving us a step ahead of the plot, but still spends far too long toying with slow set-ups and dead-end “Is he crazy?” red herrings. By the time the film starts to fully unveil its secrets, you’ll have seen half of them coming and the other half will be pretty preposterous, albeit entertainingly so.
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But while Unknown never fully delivers on the potential of its premise, there’s more than enough B-movie thrills and high-octane set pieces to provide an hour and a half of incredibly fun, daft entertainment. Liam Neeson elevates every ridiculous moment the script has to offer with growling everyman presence and is well supported by a top-notch cast. January Jones is the weak link, appearing near comatose in every scene, but Diane Kruger is far more likeable, while Bruno Ganz and Frank Langella as the ex-Stasi gumshoe and the polite, kindly assassin are sublime, with characters that hint at a much more interesting film than we get.
It’s a little too loose and derivative, and once the twists have unravelled, there’ll be little inclination to watch it again. But thanks to a great cast, stylish direction from Orphan director Jaume Collet-Serra and some adrenaline-fuelled action scenes, Unknown is still highly entertaining despite its flaws, and perfect fodder for a Saturday night rental.
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Included on Optimum Releasing’s UK Blu-ray are the following extras:
Unfortunately, they’re all pretty much of the fluffy ‘It was so great to work with everyone’ generic interview variety. ‘Liam Neeson: Known Action Hero’ focuses on interviews with the cast talking about working with Neeson, while the rest of the features cover essentially the same ground as the cast talk about the film.
But while the special features aren’t exactly special, the A/V treatment is superb, adding plenty of punch to the action scenes and making director Collet-Serra’s visuals and the European backdrops look especially stylish. The Blu-ray set is also a Double Play package, containing a free DVD version of the movie.
Unknown is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK on 18th July 2011.
Click here to order the Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk.
(Note: The images above were captured and saved at a reduced quality, and though they give an idea of how the film looks, they aren’t intended to reflect the true quality of the Blu-ray image itself.)