Unknown (2011) starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz, Frank Langella, Sebastian Koch, Olivier Schneider directed by Jaume Collet-Serra Movie Review

Unknown (2011)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger in Unknown (2011)

The Taken Identity

"Unknown" whilst a good movie also feels like a movie made on data analysis delivering exactly what the masses wanted going on what other movies worked. As such "Unknown" first gives audiences a touch of memory loss mystery which proved popular in the Jason Bourne movies and it then gives them Liam Neeson who builds upon the action man figure which really got audiences hooked in "Taken". Now there is nothing wrong with this because it means we have an intriguing set up as Neeson's character has to deal with the confusion of patchy memory and what seems identity theft having been in a coma for four days and we also get the answer to all this intrigue with a nice action ending. Unfortunately what lets this down is what comes in between because whilst all nicely produced feels routine and too similar to those Jason Bourne movies.

Having arrived in Berlin with his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) for a conference, Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson - The A-Team) realises his briefcase has been left at the airport and he grabs a taxi to return to get it. Unfortunately on the way back there is a car accident which leaves him in a coma for four days and when he comes around his memory is patchy. But that is not the worst of it as when he goes to the hotel his wife doesn't recognize him and there is another man who says he is her husband Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn). Confused and in a foreign country Martin must try and make sense of what happened and why someone else is saying that he is Martin Harris.

Bruno Ganz as Ernst Jürgen in Unknown (2011)

So for me you can almost say that "Unknown" is a variation on "The Bourne Identity" except we have an additional element of identity theft to add to the intrigue. As such after a brief intro and a spectacular action scene which sees a taxi end up flying off a bridge and plunging into a river we quickly get to the intrigue that of Martin Harris having a patchy memory but also dealing with what seems like someone having stolen his life. It is a clever set up especially with the element of his wife saying she doesn't know him because it gets your mind working as to how could that be possible and you may even come up with an idea of what may be the case.

But then whilst we have this intrigue which flows throughout the movie what then follows for a time becomes routine. What I mean is that we have Martin trying to get to the bottom of what is going on, having to run from the police who want to arrest him, track down the taxi driver who saved his life and we also get some shady men who seem to be following him. I know all of this is part of the bigger picture but it just feels like a series of narrow misses, chase scenes and fights which you can watch in any modern action movie. Don't get me wrong as it is all nicely put together but it feels like the producers and directors basically delivering audiences what they want rather than trying to do something fresh and original.

Thankfully all this ties in to what is actually a clever ending and a real surprise which when you think about it makes sense of so many things which may have bothered you. And this clever ending also delivers even bigger and better action with a simple but effective ending which wraps things up with just a touch of ambiguity.

Now there are a lot of recognizable names and faces in "Unknown" with fine performances from January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Diane Kruger, Bruno Ganz and Frank Langella but it is a movie which ends up all about Liam Neeson as Martin Harris. Now Neeson is good from start to finish but whilst a different character it is a very similar performance to that in "Taken" which there is nothing wrong with that other than it adds to "Unknown" feeling very familiar.

What this all boils down to is that "Unknown" is an entertaining movie delivering everything which modern audiences tend to like. But whilst clever and well made it also ends up feeling familiar as if we have seen various parts before and this movie was produced by data analysis more than anything else.