Monday, February 21, 2011

Review - Unknown

The trailer (included below) for Unknown offers a little insight into what to expect from this movie. A strange mystery of a man who wakes up from a coma to find that someone else has taken over his life...even to the extent that his own wife no longer recognizes him and fully accepts this newcomer as her husband.

The movie starts out simply enough, with Liam Neeson (Martin Harris...the husband) and his wife Liz on an airplane to Berlin where he's participating in some bio-technology summit. They land and take a taxi to the hotel but on reaching the hotel, he realizes one of his bags was left at the airport and catches another taxi to go back and get it...only to be in a severe car accident that puts him in a coma.

The strange mystery begins when he awakens 4 days later with limited memory of what he's doing in Berlin and who he is. Once he has enough recognition of who he is and where his wife is staying, he rushes to the hotel to reunite with her...only to find her standing next to a man claiming to be Martin Harris and completely accepted as Martin Harris by everyone around him...even his wife. Unfortunately 'our' Martin Harris has no identification (it was left in the bag he was returning to the airport to retrieve) and thus no way to prove who he is, especially given that those who should be able to identify him (namely his wife) are claiming not to know him.

The mystery is very intriguing and plays out in rather compelling ways. I don't remember the exact wording, but there's a line spoken by Liam Neeson to a doctor talking about the nature of insanity and wondering how it feels to be insane. Truly, through the first half+ of the movie, the audience is right alongside Martin Harris in the feeling of disorientation and insanity.

Slowly, Martin begins to find random threads and people to help him try and figure out who he is and what's going on. Through the course of his investigation, there are a few events that definitely bring rise to questions and considerations that point to the resolution of the mystery. Overall, I felt that the intrigue and clues were well presented to the extent that they adequately keep the audience in the dark and guessing right alongside the main character.


My only real complaint with the movie was with Martin's (Liam's) anger management. I fully understand that it would be extremely disorienting and confusing to be in his situation...but his initial response is heated anger towards the hotel manager, police, etc as he confronts them with his story. Don't get me wrong...I am sure I would be angry in the situation, but I personally felt like Liam's portrayal of anger was a little that he always portrayed the same sense of fury regardless of the situation.

A hypothetical example would be:
  • the waiter at a restaurant brought Liam the wrong entree --- GRRR...he yells at the waiter in his tense, frantic tone
  • an international human trafficking ring kidnapped his daughter --- GRRR...he yells at the villains in his tense, frantic tone.
I personally felt like Liam had two settings for angry -- growling and speaking in the same heated tone...or beating the crap out of somebody. Now naturally he wouldn't want to beat the crap out of the hotel manager, but still, he shouldn't be growling at him in the same way he'd growl at the main villain.

Beyond that aspect of Liam's emotional acting, I found the story and its twists and turns strangely believable. At first I was taken aback by his degree of paranoia early on (somewhat related to his anger management issues), but I gave that over to his amnesia and disorientation. It also proved an intriguing sidenote as he slowly regained his memory and unraveled the mystery.

Overall, I found this a pretty fun movie. I saw a reviewer compare it to Taken (Neeson's action movie from last year) and while it's got some action and it's set in foreign countries, I don't find it an adequate comparison.

Unknown has moments of high action but in a lot of ways it is set as a psychological thriller. Still, it's not as psychologically mind twisting as others in that genre. It sits somewhere beyond the mind-twist and the high-adventure genre. It's a fun escapist movie with a thought provoking twist and some nice semi-inspirational one-liners.

3 out of 5 stars


Brian Miller said...

nice. i really want to sse this...ugh on liam having that one setting on his anger...i have really enjoyed many of his movies..

Okie said...

It very well could have been just my own personal perception...I didn't ask my wife about that aspect yet. Overall, I did enjoy the movie. It was a lot of fun and well cast.

Anonymous said...

nice review..

i'm guessing there was some eventual and believable explanation as to how a person forgets a piece of luggage, particularly the one with the identification in it? because already i find that distracting...

thanks for this review. I find it very helpful. I was feeling on the fence about this one.


Okie said...

lol...yeah, that was a bit of a stretch, especially considering the importance of the bag (his briefcase with his passport and all his notes for his trip). Basically the way it played out was that he set it on the luggage rack (somehow at the bottom?) and the taxi driver missed it when loading the bags into the trunk. A bit far fetched...I know when I've had people help me load my bags, I'm always a little paranoid about missing one so I always look back at the luggage cart just in case.

Ao yeah, it was a bit of a stretch but it was quick enough and presented in such a way that it felt alright least to me.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I saw Taken just a few days ago and thought it was phenomenal...he sure had some diversity when it comes to his movies. He played in Love Actually too.