UNKNOWN Review

Though we have seen Liam Neeson march around a foreign country piecing together clues that lead him to do some serious butt-kicking it is still hard to not see "Unknown" as an entertaining and pretty intelligent thrill ride. Though you will probably figure out the big secret of the whole thing about half way through the film (I did, and I'm not the brightest person) it is at least intriguing to watch such a magnetic actor like Neeson go through the trials being in Berlin with no form of identification and claiming to be a man that seems to already exist. If you have seen the trailer you know this has been marketed to look like Neeson's 2009 hit "Taken" but you will be no doubt disappointed if you go into this film expecting as much action and as many thrills. The story is deeper here and Neeson is in top form, but compared to what we were expecting it all just feels a little bland.


And with fair warning, know going into "Unknown" that it may not be the sequel to "Taken" that you wanted, but instead be thankful that it isn't a carbon copy of that film and take it for what it really has going for it. What does it have going for it exactly? You may ask, well it certainly does boast an impressive cast and the performances rise above the sagging story of the second act. Not only do we have Neeson, who by the way he carries himself and the intelligence he exudes automatically make the film more credible, but we also have a wonderful Bruno Ganz as an ex-spy who decides to help Neesons character in discovering exactly what is going on in his life. Ganz's performance is quiet and when he comes face to face with Frank Langella it is nothing short of the films most powerful scene. And yes, "Unknown" also has Langella in a small, but intriguing role. Langella, like Neeson, simply elevates any material that he takes on. The weakest links character-wise come in the form of the two female leads. I have only watched a few episodes of "Mad Men" but I can easily tell January Jones deserves better roles than this. Jones, as Neeson's wife is under-used and awkward to the point we never buy into their relationship in the first place. We know something is up, and whether this is intentional or not, it would have simply been better to make us believe the opposite. We should suspect nothing when we see them together in the films opening moments. Diane Kruger, on the other hand is an actress I have always wanted to like, but something seems to hold me back. Here, she serves as a kind of side-kick and though her story feels a little tacked on and ultimately unnecessary as an actress Kruger serves the part well and brings in some real sympathy to an otherwise cold tale.

It is a fact that more often than not a great idea, an intriguing premise is just that. It is easy to intrigue an audience, pull them into the world, but to deliver a conclusion that satisfies and fulfills the expectations that original premise promised us is something of a different story. That is exactly how I feel about "Unknown". For the forty-five minutes we are on the edge of our seat, lost as to what is really going on, wondering who Neeson really is and how he will ever be able to find out the truth. We want him to, we need to know as bad as he does. In that time the film is nicely paced and the story builds as it should, giving us small hints without indicating a direction the story may fall into. It is inspiring, and then we get a clue and we are afraid that where it is heading is what we are already predicting. Is it not too much to ask to challenge us every so often? To find an action film that not only entertains but makes us put the pieces together ourselves? "Unknown" does this for a moment, but eventually falls into the trappings of every other B-movie that might have a February release date. And though this is a serious complaint and one Hollywood should soon address, but at least it was entertaining. It served its purpose, too bad the unknown wasn't more unique than what you could probably guess it is from simply viewing the trailer.