Premiering Saturday night on Home Box Office was this year’s mystery thriller, “Unknown”, starring Liam Neeson, January Jones, Aidan Quinn and Diane Kruger.
It’s the story of a man named Martin Harris (Liam Neeson), an American arriving in Germany with his wife (January Jones) to speak at a biotechnology symposium. While checking in to his hotel, he gets separated from his wife. The taxi they arrived in took off with some of their luggage, and he hops in another cab to follow after it. When the cab he’s in gets in to a serious accident, he is nearly killed, winding up in a coma for a handful of days.
When he comes to… He’s been “replaced”. Another man is claiming to be him, and his wife is denying she knows him. He has no way of proving his identity, his memory is faulty, and he’s in foreign country with little money and no one he can trust.
How can he prove he’s himself?
After a good whack to his head, nearly drowning, and going several minutes without oxygen, Harris winds up in a coma for several days. When he awakens, he immediately attempts to reunite with his wife. But when he finds her at the hotel, she claims to never have seen him before. She is also in the company of a strange man.
A man claiming to be Martin Harris.
Without ID, and with the one person who could corroborate his identity denying his story, Harris is in a difficult situation. In fact, for a brief moment, he questions his own certainty regarding his identity. For a brief moment, he questions his sanity. It was a clever situation, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if the film had done a better job with that, made it more surreal, psychological… as opposed to the standard “why are they out to get him?” The film chooses less intriguing path unfortunately, and quickly devolved into a fairly standard action movie / central hero with amnesia movie. There are some mild attempts at “twists”, but nothing you won’t be far ahead of. Even if you’re not, you won’t be terribly shocked.
This is a movie that feels like you’ve seen it before.
There are some halfway decent action scenes, but the movie feels far too derivative for me. There’s shades of Polanski’s “Frantic”, Spielberg’s “Minority Report”, and the entire “Bourne” trilogy. Unfortunately, in and of itself, it’s not that memorable. As an action film, it’s decent enough, but there aren’t any scenes that stand out in the genre, and as a mystery/intrigue/thriller, it’s relatively rote.
Still, Neeson is good, there are car chases and fight scenes, and even though the plot isn’t anything that’ll make anyone’s favorites list… it did entertain fairly well for its runtime.