Film Review: Unknown

Posted in Film, Reviews
By James Wright on 3 Mar 2011

Everyone’s seen Taken right? You know, it’s that Luc Besson extravaganza in which Liam Neeson pretty much kicks, punches, stabs and maims everything standing in his way. A remarkable tour de force of blood, bruises and beat downs. It might not have been as sophisticated or challenging as many other films, but damn it was fun.

So when you see posters, trailers and TV spots for Neeson’s latest film, Unknown, you’ve got to be thinking, “hell yes”, because lets face it, all the marketing paints Unknown essentially as Taken 2.

Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, a botanist on the way to Berlin with his wife (January Jones), to attend a conference. However, after a freak car accident, Harris awakens to discover she suddenly suddenly doesn’t recognise him and that another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Despite his pleas he is ignored by disbelieving authorities and all of a sudden hunted by a number of mysterious assassins. Que the wild, frothing at the mouth, frenzy of Neeson, backhanding his wife for being so forgetful and kidney punching said imposter with a fury even Chuck Norris couldn’t muster.

Well actually no. In fact, the film suddenly takes on a whole new direction, positioning itself more in line with that of a thriller than a kick ass action sensation. Gone is the rough and tumble badass of old, and in with a whinging crybaby suffering from occasional bouts of falling unconscious.

The film is unfortunately a fraud; a cheap knock-off, the equivalent of a market bought sports watch made by brand PUMA. Case in point, take a really close look at the poster for the movie and you’ll notice Liam Neeson wielding a magnificent gleaming handgun of macho awesomeness. Go on admit it, Neeson looks well ‘ard.  But here’s the kicker, and I assure you it’s not a spoiler; there is no such macho gun in the movie, at least not in Neeson’s hand, that is. In fact of what little weaponry the film does exhibit, is usually used to pistol whip Neeson across the face, and rightfully so for being such a sissy.

The truth is Unknown has begged, borrowed and stolen all its ideas from other great works such as Bourne and Taken, all in the name of facilitating it’s own meandering and convoluted storyline. The films plot might have grandiose dreams of pulling the wool over your eyes, but its unfortunately not as clever as it thinks it is and as a result the end product is an awkwardly straddled mix of predictable twists and turns infrequently peppered with mediocre action sequences.

While the film is technically very good the films story is regrettably completely devoid of value because it fails to occupy a unique space within cinema itself. So extensive is Unknown‘s pilfering of ideas from existing films that it has left itself exposed as a meagre mishm ash that fails to excel in any particular department. Put bluntly, why waste your time watching Unknown, when you can watch a far superior film that formed the basis for it?


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