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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Unknown (2011)


Main reason why Neeson should have just taken that Abraham Lincoln role.

Liam Neeson stars as a man who regains consciousness after an auto accident only to discover that another man is impersonating him, and that no one — not even his wife (January Jones) — recognizes his identity as the real Dr. Martin Harris. Finding himself with an unexpected ally (Diane Kruger), Harris struggles to solve the mystery and hang onto his own wits, while also being stalked by anonymous killers.

When you have a mixture of ‘Taken’ and ‘The Bourne Identity’ for a plot, Qui-Gon Jinn as the lead, and a whole bunch of Nazis as your villains, it seems very hard for a film like this to not be entertaining but there is only so much I can take.

The whole premise itself tries to be like a thriller that is meant for adults but could have even targeted at teenagers due to how silly it is. The whole first hour builds up on this premise and actually does a great job with it. I felt a lot of tension during this first hour as I didn’t quite know what was going to happen next nor did I know where this film was going to end up, which is always a nice recipe for a good popcorn thriller. However, things just started getting way out-of-hand real quick.

Probably one of the main problems with this flick was the fact that there was too much starting-and-stopping going on here where they would focus on the plot and build it, then they would add in a random car chase or one-on-one brawl to spice things up a little bit. This to me was OK the first 2 times they did it, but then they just kept on doing it the whole damn time and I honestly just couldn’t stay attached to this plot because right when I would, they would throw in an action sequence just so I wouldn’t have been bored even though I wasn’t in the first place.

Another department where this film doesn’t quite work is the fact that I knew where this plot was going because usually when you have one like this, that usually means that you’re going to get a lot of silliness that eventually leads to an utterly ridiculous plot twist. The plot twist itself wasn’t too bad and I actually think it kind of worked in a way but once it is revealed then everything starts to turn into the ridiculous action-thriller cliches that we are so used to seeing nowadays. It seems like director Jaume Collet-Sera just likes putting in plot twists that somehow work and make sense but then likes to knock them down with being predictable. He did it with ‘Orphan’ and I guess he hasn’t learned much.

Liam Neeson always tries his hardest with everything he ever appears in and his performance as Dr. Martin Harris, is no different. There are plenty of ridiculous and overboard things that he does but Neeson makes it seem believable just by being the way he is. Still, at age 59, doesn’t seem a little unbelievable that this guy could still be considered an action star that can do half of the things that he does in all of his films. Maybe it’s time for him to start trying for Oscars again.

The way the rest of the cast looks, makes this film seem like we were going to get a real treat but nobody really adds anything to this flick either. Diane Kruger plays a non-German for a film that is set entirely in Berlin, which is a big problem especially when her Bosnian accent isn’t very good as she struggles through a lot of her lines; January Jones is very bad as Elizabeth Harris and REALLY struggles through her lines; and Frank Langella and Bruno Ganz are the only two that actually show some real talent and give off one of the best scenes of the film, even though that’s not saying much in the first place.

Consensus: Liam Neeson is good as usual and there are some good moments that work, but Unknown is just another silly, predictable, and uninteresting thriller that doesn’t do much with its intriguing premise and feels like it’s trying to hard to be an action flick that still tries to rely on the plot for more thrills, but instead offers up barely any.

3/10=Rental!!

10 responses to “Unknown (2011)

  1. Evan Crean February 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Collet-Serra obviously mixes several films together here into a cocktail, but it was one I found more enjoyable than you did. I looked past some of the predictable elements to find enjoyment in Neeson’s more vulnerable action hero (he gets beat up pretty bad), and Collet-Serra’s style of action. I loved the juxtaposition of the disorganized looking fight scenes with the skillfully cut car chases.

  2. deerinthexenonarclights February 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I’m guessing Dan, based on the lack of mention, that you havn’t seen the Harrison Ford / Roman Polanski vehicle Frantic? It’s funny because noone at any stage mentioned that movie or that this was a re-make of it and yet they have stolen entire sequences from it verbatim, and worst of all they only took the bad stuff!

    Such a dissapointment after the joy that was Taken, let’s hope the actual sequel is better than this pseudo-one

  3. kevynknox February 29, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Good review.

    You are right that the film inevitably gets quite silly. Actually the only part of the film I really enjoyed was Diane Kruger. Neeson has made a habit of playing these kinds of parts in these kinds of movies and he is much too talented to let his career trickle down into such silly nonsense as this.

  4. Rodney March 1, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Yeah, I pretty much felt the same, Dan. This film tried to be both an action film and an intellectual thriller and didn’t quite manage to be either, when all is said and done.

    Still, I can’t wait to see Neeson back in Taken 2….. he’s so cool when he’s kicking ass….

  5. Ipodman March 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I watched this a while back… definitely agree that some of the random car chases and fight scenes could have been cut down to make a more concise movie. I also agree that the twist is very weird :|

  6. The Cinemaniac March 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I found this one to be decent when I saw it, but I’m not at all surprised by your assessment of it. I’d been hearing mixed reviews about it, and that’s the whole reason I waited–gosh–about seven months before actually watching it. Phenomenal review; haven’t seen quite enough of Neeson (probably just his lesser-honored roles such as Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia and, as you referenced, Qui-Gon Jinn from Star Wars: Episode I), but I agree with you on most of this.

  7. Kristin March 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I wasn’t a big fan of Unknown. I saw it when it came out in theaters, expecting it to be pretty good, especially from the trailer. But I was disappointed. I love Liam Neeson, but I much prefer him in Taken than Unknown, even though both are a bit far out there and unrealistic. Nice review, Dan!

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