Unknown review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) is in Berlin with his wife Liz (January Jones) for a biotech conference. When he realizes that he’s left his briefcase at the airport, he hails a cab to retrieve it – only to skid off a bridge and into the river! A few days later, Martin awakes from a coma and returns to meet his wife at the conference.
But something’s wrong: His wife doesn’t recognize him and beside her is another man saying he is Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn). Is Martin really who he says he is? If so, why has someone taken over his life? What is going on?
Such are the questions Liam Neeson has to answer in the action-thriller ‘Unknown’ directed by Spaniard Jaume Collet-Serra. In it, Neeson investigates the identity theft that’s happened to him and pieces together what he knows from what’s left of his memory. Joining him are a cab driver, Gina (Diane Kruger), a Bosnian immigrant and a retired Stasi officer Jurgen. Together in paranoia, fisticuffs, firing guns, and car chases across Germany, Neeson and company discern that they’re up against forces that don’t want to be messed with.
‘Unknown’ has been described as a cross between the ‘Bourne’ films with Liam Neeson’s 2009 hit ‘Taken’ and a dash of Alfred Hitchcock noir. Berlin gets its Hollywood treatment and its architecture, gloom, and cold are highlighted with great care. You know there’s something hot brewing under that icy exterior. Neeson is in top form, still regal even when confused and conflicted.
His fighting skills make him the most unexpected action hero, yes, but he can definitely pack a wallop. His support from German actors Diane Kruger and Bruno Ganz are well-played; their unlikely trio/alliance is very convincing. The action sequences are competently shot and the plot is full of surprises.
The film ‘Unknown ‘may seem like a mashup of most action-thrillers these days, but it borrows from the right films and improves on its weaknesses. Who knew amnesia could be so thrilling?