Unknown (2011)

Unknown (2011)
  • Time: 113 min
  • Genre: Action | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones


A biochemist and his dishy wife arrive in Berlin for a conference at which a scientist and his controversial Arab funder will announce breakthrough research. While his wife checks into the hotel, he grabs a cab to return to the airport for his briefcase, left at the curb. En route, an auto accident puts him in a coma, from which he awakes four days later without identification and with gaps in his memory. He goes to the hotel: his wife refuses to recognize him and another man has claimed his identity. With help from a nurse, the cab driver, a retired Stasi agent, and an academic friend, he tries to unravel what’s going on. Is the answer in the briefcase?

One comment

  • An American couple arrives in Berlin, and they take a taxi to their hotel. The man is Martin Harris, a biologist in town to attend a summit that intends to unveil a revolutionary type of crop to end world hunger. As his wife goes to check in, Martin realizes that they have left a briefcase at the airport and decides to go back. On the cab ride to the airport, the car in front of them loses control, and the taxi swerves into the bridge wall, crashes through, and shoots out into the river.
    Four days later, Martin wakes up in a hospital room, and he has lost part of his memory, only aware of his name and his wife’s. With no form of identification on him, and no idea where his wife is, he has no way to confirm his existence. After seeing the summit on the news, Martin remembers and goes to the hotel. He sees his wife, and as he goes to approach her, he is stopped by security. He tells the guards his name, and they say he has already come in. Martin presses past the desk and he sees a man with his wife. Furiously questioning the stranger, Martin is shown that this man has a driver’s license stating the name Martin Harris, his picture with other scientists, and the wife denies any recognition of Martin. Confused and bewildered, Martin desperately searches for a way to prove his identity, and to find out why his wife denies that he is her husband.

    My Thoughts
    The “lost memory/who am I?” idea is very common in the movie world, and it has become somewhat tiresome to see how much it is used. The most notable success of this concept can be found in the Bourne trilogy, and it was vastly successful in both the box office and pop culture. While this film is not nearly as good as The Bourne Identity (2001) or its sequels, it is not quite as bad as others that have appeared on the big screen.
    This film was made in 2011, and lead actor Liam Neeson had recently come off of a major success in 2008’s Taken, a film about an ex-CIA agent who goes to save his daughter who has been kidnapped while on a trip in Europe. After the success of the film, Neeson showed that he could be an action star, and this film wanted to use that new identity (no joke intended). The film Unknown, unfortunately, did not receive quite as much of a positive reception. In comparison to Taken, this film lacks the patriarchal emotion and desire for the daughter’s safety, and so it lacks the relatable element that was the driving force in Taken.
    In addition, the acting around Neeson is not quite as good. Though January Jones and Diane Kruger do their best, Jones lacks the emotion, and Kruger lacks the likability needed for her character. Though this film is not meant to be completely realistic, there were a few times where the plot was given a little boost in order for the end result to occur. In this day and age, who doesn’t have their driver’s license, phone, or (when traveling abroad) passport in his or her nearest reach?
    Though this film didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I did like it some aspects. The editing was great, the cinematography has an intriguing tint to it, and the action sequences are very good. Though his performance surely wasn’t worthy of any serious critical acclaim, Neeson does a good job with his character.
    Lastly, this film has a twist ending. I personally love a twist when it is executed well, and though it is not nearly as good as the Usual Suspects, Fight Club, or The Sixth Sense, this film’s unforeseen conclusion is pulled off reasonably well.

    Score: 7.5/10
    Comments: Without the critical eye, this film is a good thriller, and it is worthy of some attention. I’d recommend this movie to anyone who liked Taken or other Neeson action flicks like Non-Stop. It’s worthy of a movie night and a bowl of popcorn, but maybe not too much past that.

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