* Prices may differ from that shown
- Story -
An American couple check in to a hotel in Berlin where they've arrived to take part in a conference where an Arab is due to make an important announcement. While the wife checks in, the husband (Martin) hails a taxi to return to the airport where he's left behind his briefcase. Unfortunately a road traffic accident happens and he ends up in a coma - once he's awoken, he realises he's been out of it for a few days and he goes in search for his wife, only to discover someone has stolen his identity and no-one believes who he is, including his wife. Why has this happened? who has stolen his identity and why? can he prove his identity and regain his life? you'll have to watch the movie to find out.
- Thoughts & Opinions -
This is quite a claustrophobic thriller, with a story that gives you that sinking feeling. Its hardly original, yet following Martin you find yourself absorbed in his world, trying to piece the pieces together to determine whats at play, who has stolen his identity and why. This film felt quite similar to the Bourne movies, with a similar mix of story and action/visual effects, its also set in europe and has a similar story I suppose.
I felt both the musical score and incidental music used throughout really added to the suspense, with the use of stringed instruments increasing the tension felt, during flashback scenes and so on. I felt that the plot lagged in parts, it picks up in some parts with a good amount of action and chase scenes (by car and on foot) as well as some claustrophobic scenes where characters realise their in deep trouble perhaps a little too late but inbetween it lacks a bit, with what I thought was a slightly confusing plot (although it had to be rather confusing or it would be slated for being too simple I suppose). There are certainly political elements to the story, with communism mentioned often, which perhaps shouldn't be a surprise given its set in Germany. Its fair to say that the plot contains a twist, which you may or may not see coming, depending on how much you analyse these things but even so, I didn't feel that it was breaking entirely new ground. The film is rather dark (both in colour and in context) but fairly engrossing, so its pretty watchable - if your mainly looking for a large blockbuster action movie then this may disappoint as you do need to be interested in the characters and able to pay attention to details in the story, its not entirely action-based.
All in all, this is a pretty good effort as a movie and as such its a decent enough film but in terms of overall content, as far as the plot and concept is concerned, I don't feel that its anything new - it lags a bit in the middle and even though there have been enthusiastic quotes relating to this movie about it being as good as Taken, personally I would disagree - I'd rather watch Taken again than this. It would be unfair to say that its a particularly poor movie but looking back on it, I don't feel that its particularly memorable - its hard to go into detail without basically giving away the plot. Liam neeson gives a pretty solid performance as Martin, his confusion and anger being well portrayed - one of the main advantages of this movie is that its really quite convincing, which is what makes it quite engrossing. The ending is quite atmospheric and it does have a sinister feel to it, however it really didn't feel particularly memorable enough that I'd want to watch it again, nor do I feel like I was particularly surprised by what happened in the end, so I suppose I feel somewhat 50/50 about it - its not at all remarkable but its also more than satisfactory(?). I feel that this movie could have packed a bit more of a punch if there were perhaps an added final twist or some such but otherwise its pretty competent, just perhaps not quite as good as you may hope (I hope this makes sense?).
- Would I Recommend It? -
To be honest, this is a difficult one. It would depend on what your looking for, what kind of movies you enjoy and whether your keen on following stories more or less than looking for constant visual effects and action scenes. This movie lags a bit but it does provide a good amount of suspense and there are some decent action and chase scenes as well - I don't feel that its particularly memorable, yet its perfectly watchable all the same, however I think that there are equally good, if not better, action/thrillers out there which are probably a bit more original, plot-wise than this and on that basis I think I'd have to say look for those instead, so I wouldn't particularly recommend this title.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful and thanks for any and all rates and comments. This review may be posted on DooYoo UK under the same username.
When Dr. Martin Harris wakes up after four days in a coma, following a car crash, he is determined to seek out and locate his wife who is alone in Berlin whilst he is supposed to be attending a conference. The only problem is when he does catch up with her, she is with another man claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris and seems to have no idea who he is. What is more, this stranger has all the documentation, including personal photos, to back up who he is. So who is our man who thinks he's someone he so obviously is not? "Dr. Martin Harris" doesn't know but he is determined to find out.....something that is further complicated when he begins to realize that someone is out to shut him up...permanently....
This was Liam Neeson's attempt to follow up his role as an action hero after the big success of Taken. And it works. Really well!
Neeson is excellent as a man with no real memory of who he is and though the plot quickly becomes a little predictable, still it is presented in an original enough way to still make this film very enjoyable indeed! As a follow-up to Taken, I really feel this works to prove that Neeson really can cut the mustard as someone you wouldn't want to be messing with!
With plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience interested, I think this is one of the best thrillers to come out of the last couple of years and is an action-packed roller-coaster of a ride that has everything you might want in such a film and a quite satisfying climax that helps complete it all!
Comes highly recommended from me!
Unknown stars Liam Neeson as Dr Martin Harris and January Jones as his wife, Liz. Martin and Liz travel to Berlin for him to speak at a conference. On arrival in Berlin, Martin realises at the hotel that he has left his briefcase outside the airport and quickly catches a taxi back to fetch it. Unfortunately, Martin is involved in a car crash on the way to the airport. His life is saved by the taxi driver, Gina, who runs away from the scene of the crash. Martin wakes up in a Berlin hospital, with no recollection of how he got there. He leaves the hospital against the doctors wishes and goes to the hotel. When he gets there, he finds the conference in full swing, and asks the security who are questioning him, to go and speak to his wife. His wife has no idea who he is, and introduces another man, Dr Martin Harris as her husband.
The police are contacted, and earnestly trying to confirm who he is to the police, the website of his work place has some other person pictured under his name. What's going on? Why does his wife not acknowledge his existence and who is this impostor?
I thought this was a great film. It kept me guessing right up until the end of the film. To be honest, I wasn't expecting the ending. It wasn't difficult to get into as some films often are. I was hooked right from the beginning, when I immediately wanted to know what was going on. This film held my attention throughout, but unfortunately I grudgingly had to tear myself away from it for dinner, and couldn't wait to get back to it.
Although all the acting in the film was great, I felt the most likeable character was Gina. She part is played very well by Diane Kruger. I thought that the back story of her life really added to her character and made you like her so much. The character goes through a lot, which adds depth to the character. She does a great job as Martin's 'assistant' on his quest to find out what's going on and why is someone impersonating him. Liam Neeson plays a great character too, I think he adds real depth to the character of Martin. You really feel his confusion and the feeling of being 'lost' as no one seems to be confirming his identity. He really brings to life the horror you would experience if all of a sudden, to everyone else, you cease to exist and yet you are entirely lucid and you know who you are!! I've not seen many films with Liam Neeson, but will definitely have to do so now!
The great thing about this was the setting. So many films are set in New York or London, I really don't think that I have seen a film set in Berlin. (Although according to my friends, there are a lot of essential films that I have not seen!!). It was set in a lovely, snowy scene in Berlin, which rather made me want to go there!
This film is currently available on Amazon for £3, which is an incredible price for a great film. If you've not seen it, I highly recommend picking it up asap while it's still available. The certificate is a 15 and lasts for 113 minutes.
Liam Neeson seems to have made a bit of a name for himself as an action hero these days. Last year we watched Taken, a film featuring Liam as a CIA agent desperately searching for his kidnapped daughter. When I first saw the adverts for Unknown on TV, I honestly thought it was going to be a rehash of Taken. It certainly looked to be very similar from a small clip. I wasn't overly keen on rushing to watch it as a result. We ended up watching this last weekend as it was available to watch online as part of our lovefilm package, and we had nothing else planned. In all honesty, I sat down to watch it with my laptop open, and I ended up getting quite engrossed in this film.
While there are some similarities to Taken because it is an action film based upon an American male dealing with a life altering event, I also felt that there were sufficient differences to make this film equally as good as Taken, if not better as there is no dodgy cameo by Holly Valance spoiling the plot development.
Neeson stars as scientist Dr Martin Harris. Arriving in Berlin with his wife Liz for a biotechnology conference, he leaves his briefcase at the airport. He takes a taxi to the airport to retrieve it, only on the way the taxi crashes plunging him into the water. He is saved by his taxi driver, but when he regains consciousness in hospital, he finds no-one has reported him missing, and even more bizarrely, his wife appears not to recognise him, and there is someone else who is now using his identity.
Everyone blames his confusion on his head injury, but when someone starts following him and trying to kill him, he realises he is not crazy, and he enlists the help of his taxi driver (Diane Kruger) to try and get to the bottom of it all.
The plot took a little to get going at first, but from the crash, we start to get a build up of suspense. Did someone make the car crash on purpose to steal his identity? Why would someone do that? The plot of this is a bit far fetched to me, but the actors were really strong and believable.
There are some excellent chase scenes through the streets of Berlin as Neeson and Kruger try to escape assasins, and I found it impossible to work out what was going on before the reveal moment in the film. Neeson is very believable in the action role, and by combining him on screen with Kruger I felt his perfomance here was a lot more believable than in Taken, where he was like 'The Terminator' wiping out loads of baddies armed with mostly his bare hands. I have certainly seen many worse action films in terms of plot.
The score to this film was suitable to the mood of the film, but I didn't feel that memorable. I certainly can't think of any moments where I was picking anything recognisable out of it and thinking that it was a great fit for the film. It was dark and moody like the plot.
I think that this is a pretty good action/psychological thriller. There is enough action to keep most people entertained without being too disturbing to put me off. The plot is suspenceful enough to prevent you seeing the ending from the start, yet leaving a little room for 'That would never happen' moments. There are plenty of outside shots highlighting the streets of Berlin, and Neeson is rugged enough to be believable in the role of hero. None of this is enough to be outstanding, but it is enough to be good and a crowd pleaser.
I think if you didn't like Taken, chances are you might find this one more believable, and if you were a fan of Taken, then you are likely to think this is pretty good. It is easy to watch anyway, and I can think of worse ways to kill a couple of hours.
Having recently seen 'Taken', another thriller with Liam Neeson yet much more far fetched, I desperately hoped that this film would be far better, and indeed it is.
~~~THOUGHTS ON PLOT~~~
Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) arrives in Berlin with his wife Liz (January Jones) but upon forgetting his suitcase at the airport, he returns to get it. After an unfortunate taxi accident, Martin ends up in a coma. Waking up and seeking out his wife, she denies knowing who he is, with another man claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris. With the help of the taxi driver Gina (Diane Kruger), Martin is desperate to find out the truth, with shocking revelations.
The premise of the film was set up very quickly and I was instantly intrigued the moment his wife denied knowing him. I could not figure out why she would do such a thing, if indeed she was his wife, and for a large part of the movie, I questioned if he really was deluded, or if there was a greater, darker scheme of things going on behind the scenes.
Despite being intrigued very early on, the action begins to kick in around half way where a tense escape scene and a car chase takes place; from this point on, the film escalates to a heart racing chase thriller, much like Bourne, where you really want to find out what is going on, given all the clues.
Whilst the action sequences remained pretty typical of such a film, I was genuinely satisfied with the way it drew to a close and the ending was appropriately explained. I liked how tension retained right to the very end; a part of me thought there would be a shocker of an ending, like a shot of an assassin, or otherwise which would hint at a sequel, but none came.
Either way, this was a solid film, though a tad long (at two hours) which keeps you guessing and tensed to the end.
Liam Neeson- Dr. Martin Harris
Diane Kruger- Gina
January Jones- Liz Harris
Also stars Aidan Quinn, Frank Langella and Bruno Ganz.
I thought the cast was pretty great. Whilst I'm not a fan of Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger and January Jones were pretty exceptional, with the aid of some good supporting cast such as the cold character of Frank Langella.
'Unknown' is definitely worthwhile for fans of thrillers as this has a solid plot, tense and exciting action sequences as well as a great cast. Though a tad long, this has definitely redeemed Neeson and thrillers since the outrageous plot line of previous thriller 'Taken'. If you EVER think about seeing Taken, go see this instead!
Star - Liam Neeson
Certificate - 12a
Run Time - 114 minutes
Genre - Thriller
Country - USA
So, after the surprise success of Taken, the word-of-mouth movie hit of recent years,we have Unknown, Liam Neeson again in hot pursuit with a mix of extreme menace and control for something he has lost dear to him, not his daughter this time around but himself, his memory and then identity misplaced during a severe car crash. He was wonderfully threatening in Taken (a film you must see if you haven't) and his imposing and rather awkward frame that he drags around the set like one of those bent over Chinese guys with a huge basket of firewood on their back really imposes itself on the viewer here, yet that soft but deep Irish brogue softening the big punches and knee to the groin in a tender way.
To me his performance as Oscar Schindler is the greatest ever by a male actor in a film in my lifetime and so all the more surprising he never really troubled The Academy again. He tended to play to the masses thereafter with his Rob Roy Michael Collins hero of the people roles with the intense troubled persona thing and then completely sold out in the dreadful Phantom Menace. Ok, Taken and Unknown may not require great acting and likely to win awards but I do feel he has found his niche with the ageing calm but assured intelligent action hero role. His brilliantly funny appearance in Ricky Gervais's new sitcom will outdo anything he has done on film last year though.
Liam Neeson ... Dr. Martin Harris
Diane Kruger ... Gina
January Jones ... Elizabeth Harris
Aidan Quinn ... Martin B
Bruno Ganz ... Ernst Jürgen
Frank Langella ... Rodney Cole
Sebastian Koch ... Professor Leo Bressler
Olivier Schneider ... Smith
Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) has just arrived in a wintery Berlin with his attractive wife Elizabeth (January Jones) for a biotech conference. As the wife checks in he has to go back to the airport alone to pick up a briefcase he left there, but disaster striking as his taxi tries to evade a falling object off a lorry and flies of a bridge into the Rhine, the driver getting free and Harris waking up in a hospital four days later, the day of his conference speech.
Discharging himself against doctor's orders to go and look for his wife to reassure her he is ok, far worse is to come, his wife claiming not to know who Harris is at the conference and there with another man (Aidan Quinn), who claims to be her husband, Dr Martin Harris. It seems the bang on the head has got him all confused on who he is and who Mr and Mrs Harris are, intriguing stuff.
The law now think he is a bit of a nut and so he Seeks help outside of the law as he tracks down the cab driver who pulled him clear of the accident, Gina (Diane Kruger), a pretty Eastern European illegal immigrant who fled the crash scene for that reason only. She reluctantly agrees to help Harris after some pestering and soon embroiled in something far more sinister, men with guns out to kill them. Harris other hopes to confirm his identity are Professor Leo Bressler (Sebastian Koch), also attending the conference, who Harris seems to know all about through his work, and a man who can help people find things out, Ernst Jürgen (Bruno Ganz), a private detective of sorts from the bad old days of Berlin. Who ever Harris really is he mixes with the wrong people and his secret is threatening the bad guys operation at the Berlin conference. But why are there two Martin Harris's and people in black suits and sunglasses shooting at him?
Ok, it's not 'Taken' but its good fun, an honest twisty thriller that engages you from start to finish with healthy dollops of intrigue and a can full of whoop ass action. It looks pretty good for its $40 million budget and the punters enjoyed it just enough to see it win back $160 million on DVD and in the multiplexes.
The first half of the film sets up Neeson as the passive scientist and then builds into something very different as a smart thriller becomes a perfunctory action movie. But that's fine as films must be entertaining to win an audience in recession and keep those popcorn sales up. Tinker Taylor, Soldier Spy this isn't. There are only so many scenes you can take of graying middle-aged men in a room not saying much and smoking cigarettes.
Neeson does the job in the lead and the rest of the cast come along for the ride, recognizing this is a Neeson vehicle and so get out of the road or you will get run over, the sexy blonde cabby a bit of a liberty though. Anyone who has caught a cab in Berlin knows (rather ironically) there are no blonde haired blue-eyed cab drivers in that city anymore.
Yes there are the predictable screeching bad guys in black SUVs racing around a European city with sirens blazing not far behind and one too many two-dimensional black economy immigrant characters in most scenes but director Jaume Collet-Serra keeps it racing along and adrenaline fueled until all becomes clear, although the ending a little bit naff.
Throughout it's very much: 'that's silly? But Wait.... that works...oh, I see why he did that now',... and it never feels preachy in the way many American action movies do and so the director doesn't have his actors explaining the plot to you by turning to the camera for what's just happened dialogue to make you feel like a complete idiot. Another one of its stand out qualities is the way Neesons true identity reveals itself through the subtle hints and clues in the timeline of the movie rather than the quick reveal.
The 12a rating is a bit of a surprise as this is quite violent at times and so, parents, not for young kids. Being stabbed in the front with a glass shard is 18R for me. If it had been pitched as a 15 it probably would have got more rental business as the grownup material is the films selling point.
Imdb.com - 6.9/10.0 (78,755 votes)
Metacritic.com - 56% critics approval rating
Radio Times Film Year Book - 2.5/4.0
The Guardian - "Enjoy it and then forget it..."
LA Times - "The movie rather crumbles when it eventually has to deliver its secrets".
New Yorker - "For about an hour or so, "Unknown" is intriguing"
Metropolis - ..."with Liam Neeson in the lead, he makes everything we see on screen, no matter how far-fetched, seem plausible".
-Behind the Scenes-
Straightforward stuff about the movie you have just seen.
-Liam Neeson: Known Action Hero-
The directors nod that this is the unofficial sequel to Taken.
Cast & Crew talking heads.
"Unknown" is a 2011 film starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger and January Jones, with a 15 certificate. You can buy a copy of the DVD online at www.amazon.co.uk for £4.49, or from www.play.com for around the same price. (Prices as @ January 2012).
* THE FILM *
Dr Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife Liz (January Jones) arrive at Berlin airport after a long flight from the US. Arriving at their hotel after a short cab ride from the airport, Liz goes inside the hotel to check-in whilst Martin pays the cab driver and collects their luggage. He soon realises that his briefcase is missing and immediately hails another cab to return to the airport to try and find it.
During this return journey, the cab crashes and Martin is knocked unconscious. His life is saved by his cab driver, Gina (Diane Kruger) who then flees the scene to avoid any questions by the police. Martin slips into a coma and awakens some days later in hospital, with little or no recollection of how he got there.
When he realises that his wife will be distraught at his disappearance, Martin leaves the hospital against his doctor's wishes, and returns to the hotel to find Liz. By this time however, there is a formal function underway in the hotel, with Liz in attendance. Martin can see Liz through the hotel room doors and he identifies her to the hotel staff. When the staff accompany Martin into the function, Liz states that her husband is already at the function, and an unknown man appears at her side. She introduces *this* man as Dr Martin Harris, and states she has no knowledge of 'the other' Dr Harris.
As the hotel security want to call the police, Martin desperately tries to persuade them of his existence. He mentions websites which have his photograph on them, but when the staff look these up online, they only see the 'fake' Dr Harris's picture. The 'fake' Dr Harris has identification and family photographs on his person, which are identical to Martin's but with his face replaced with that of the impostor.
Why is this other man trying to impersonate him? And why is his wife denying his existence? Martin must prove his identity to the authorities and to Liz.... Before it's too late.....
* MY OPINION *
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I found the story was very thrilling and kept the audience guessing about what the final outcome would be. As the film started, I will admit to feeling a little like I had seen it all before and I assumed the film would be completely predictable. I couldn't have been more wrong.
I found that "Unknown" was one of those movies that reaches out from the screen and literally grabs your attention, keeping it in a tight grip throughout. And I felt this happen very early on too - perhaps after the first ten minutes or so. Never once did my attention waiver or my interest weaken and I found the on-screen events entirely captivating as a result.
The plot was a very interesting one, being extremely gripping and with some brilliant ideas throughout which I thought were cleverly designed to keep the audience guessing. I believe that the film is actually based upon a book, but either way, it was not difficult to imagine the work and effort that went into the plotlines, particularly when it came to the twists and turns in the story. It all paid off, and as a result I felt as if the story was something of a clever puzzle, with only a few pieces being given to the audience which resulted in us desperately trying to figure out where the other pieces were. This is something that I find is quite rare in thriller or mystery movies, as the storyline is often far too predictable, so to find such a mysterious plot and a storyline which kept us guessing so much was a very welcome discovery.
The acting in the film was faultless in my opinion, with Liam Neeson really giving the character of Martin Harris a highly mysterious edge to suit the themes in the film perfectly. He conveyed enough emotion and feeling to convince us of Martin's plight and as a result I found I was really feeling sorry for him. There are one or two twists in the film and I felt that these caught Martin's character off guard perfectly, with no doubt of his character's misfortunes. I also felt that Neeson did a fantastic job in the many stunt scenes that are evident in the film, apparently conveying them with ease and precision.
The other star in the movie for me was Diane Kruger who played Gina. I thought that she did an excellent job in her role as Martin's side-kick and eventual friend. This was helped greatly by the character herself who is very likeable anyway, but the actress certainly brought a lot to the role.
The rest of the casting was faultless in my opinion, and I thought that each of the actors did an impeccable job. I never once felt that there was anything lacking in any of the performances in the film.
The soundtrack in the movie is quite intense at times, which I felt added to the thrill of the story, and combined with it to make the experience completely atmospheric. The atmospheric element of the movie was helped greatly with the cold and snowy Berlin backdrop too, which helped convey the gloomy mood that was experienced by our hero at several points throughout the movie.
In my view, "Unknown" is one of those rare films that delivers a perfect story, littered with twists and turns that builds up to a climatic ending, intent on catching the audience completely off-guard. It is rare to find such an entertaining movie that leaves the viewer feeling caught-out and with plenty of food for thought. And in my opinion at least, Unknown delivers all of this perfectly.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the film, particularly if you are a fan of thriller movies with a psychological element throughout.
* BONUS FEATURES *
There are some bonus features on the DVD that I borrowed, which are:
- Unknown: The Story
- Behind The Scenes
- Liam Neeson: Known Action Hero
I didn't have time to watch all of the bonus features, but I did watch the Trailer which was quite enjoyable, even after watching the film. I also looked at "Unknown: The Story" which was a short feature containing snippets of interviews from the actors and director, as well as the producer.
I like Liam Neeson as an actor and I'd seen the ads for this film so I was interested in watching it. Although the basic premise seemed fairly unoriginal and run-of-the-mill, the twists and characters picked up this film quite well.
We're introduced to Dr Martin Harris (played by Liam Neeson), who travelled to Berlin with his wife for a conference. Harris is soon resting up in a Berlin hospital after a serious car crash, which seemed to be an unfortunate accident after running back to pick up a suitcase he left behind. His head injuries, and the resulting four day coma, seem to have left him with some gaps in his memory, including how he ended up in the hospital. It seems that he knows who he is, but no one else does, because when he finds his wife, she says she doesn't recognise him. Harris is obviously confused by this point (who wouldn't be?). Could he be wrong, could he really be someone else? Surely not, something else must be going on, but what?
Harris tracks down his wife on different occasions trying to talk to her, trying to figure out this huge mess and his apparent mistaken identity. But when he sees her with another man, a man who seems to have stolen his identity, Harris knows he needs to hunt down the truth. Of course, nothing is ever that easy, for getting to the truth is complex and along the way he bumps in to a few people who seem more than happy to put a bullet in his head rather than have him discover the truth.
I won't say any more on the plot, but it does keep you wondering and guessing. Amnesia and/or someone stealing your identity has been done before so I did think it could be quite dry and unpredictable, but it was actually quite interesting and had some good twists and turns along the way, making it one of those films you want to see out until the end.
Neeson was fantastic as Dr Harris, as expected, and Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) was believable in her role as his wife. The cast felt quite strong and they made the film more intriguing, watchable and enabled the viewer to identify more greatly with the characters and emotions.
This was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (who also worked on Orphan), and Unknown does have a high quality, well-polished feel to it. It felt like a film worth watching for a decent cast and settings, and a few twists along the way. However, I wouldn't say it was exactly 'action packed', and there were points where I think it could have been a bit more energised to make it more engrossing.
I'd say it has a similar feel to Taken, for those who have seen it, starring Neeson. However, this film has its own appeal and Neeson does it justice. Unknown would be classed as a thriller, and it's one I'd recommend if you want something to keep you guessing and anxiously awaiting what happens next.
Released 2011, rated Certificate 15
Selling on Amazon for £4.49
A man and his wife travel to Berlin on a work conference, and after he leaves his briefcase on a trolley at the airport, he jumps into a taxi and races back to get it. However, on the way he is involved in an awful car crash, and the next thing he knows is waking up in the hospital alone. He's insistent that he's Dr. Martin Harris, but when he finds his wife at the hotel, his wife doesn't recognise him and there's another man with her claiming to be Martin Harris too. The man claiming to be Martin Harris realises that he is in a race to prove that he really is who he says he is, but there is a team of people on his tail trying to kill him, and the taxi driver who saved him too. Who exactly are the team of assassins on his tail, why has his whole life been turned upside down and is he really Dr Martin Harris?
This isn't a film that had been on my radar at all but after a recent visit to my parents house, we found ourselves with nothing to watch in the evenings, and so headed off down to Blockbuster to see if any grabbed our fancy. Luckily my mum had heard good things about this film, and me being a fan of Liam Neeson thought it sounded like a good idea. I especially liked that the tagline said 'If you liked Taken, you'll love this'. Given that I really enjoyed that film, it sounded likely I would therefore like this too! I have to say after watching it, both me and my parents thoroughly enjoyed it, didn't see the surprising twists that happened throughout and thought it's definitely worth a watch, especially if you're a fan of action thriller films.
The cast is led by the fantastic Liam Neeson, who seems to rather enjoy these action type roles at the moment. He plays American man Martin Harris who wakes up and has to prove his identity before assassins manage to kill him. Neeson steps up to the plate really well, putting in a very convincing performance that had me rooting for him from the off, and I enjoyed watching him on the screen. He isn't as "gung-ho" as he is in Taken, but he has a real edge to him and as a consequence, I found him to be a great male lead for this film. He was complemented well by Diane Kruger, who played his taxi driver Gina. I wasn't sure about her at first, but as the action picked up, Kruger stepped up to the plate and really put a lot into her performance, and by the end she was my favourite star behind Neeson!
Sadly the same cannot be said for January Jones, who played Martin Harris' wife Elizabeth. I found her really hard to watch as she seemed completely devoid of emotion, and didn't have any chemistry whatsoever with Neeson, even when she was supposed to be his loving wife. I just found her annoying and it such a shame when the rest of the cast are so good. I have to also complement Bruno Ganz who played a retired German secret police officer who is aiding "Martin Harris" in finding out who he is - he gave a very convincing performance, and I thought he and Neeson together were superb. Overall though, with the exception of Jones, I felt the cast performed well together, younger merging easily with the older members and for me it just worked.
The film is set and was filmed in Germany, so it had a really authentic look to it. Germany isn't a country I have ever visited but it looks very beautiful in the film, and the film is keen to mix its modern architecture with the older history which I thought was really good. Some of the car chases in the film were really impressive, and gives the viewer not only the thrill of the chase, but a chance to see the fantastic scenery too. On the note of action sequences, I felt they were all done with pinache in this film, and there is certainly enough of them to keep you going! Neeson and Kruger were in particular great in their scenes, and it really is nail-biting stuff - several times I jumped as something happened and you're never sure exactly who is going to make it out of a scene alive when it turns really nasty! Needless to say, if you don't like action movies, swearing and a bit of violence, this isn't the film for you!
Yes, if you're a fan of Taken you are going to enjoy this film, but even if you didn't enjoy that one, don't be put off because Unknown is worth a watching off its own merit! The cast is superb, the action sequences are thrilling to watch and the story has so many twists and turns, there is no way you'll be able to guess the ending... at least my parents and I didn't see it coming at all and were really shocked. There's something great about a good thriller that can have you fooled right up until the end which makes it really watchable, and for that reason I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Unknown. No, it won't be everyone's cup of tea but if you know it isn't your sort of film, you probably wouldn't be watching it anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, and at nearly 2 hours long, I didn't find it too long as every second was accounted for. A fantastic film, and a must-see!
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell
Running Time: 113 minutes
Liam Neeson ... Dr. Martin Harris
Diane Kruger ... Gina
January Jones ... Elizabeth Harris
Aidan Quinn ... Martin B
Bruno Ganz ... Ernst Jürgen
Frank Langella ... Rodney Cole
Sebastian Koch ... Professor Leo Bressler
The DVD is available on Amazon.co.uk for £9.50 (August 2011).
Thank you for reading.
Liam Neeson is officially the Irish Action Hero! This man, for his age, is incredible. He does say that since the death of his wife he has thrown himself in to work and you can tell!
I absolutely loved Taken and had not actually read too much about this movie before seeing it. I was pleasantly suprised. Yes, the broadsheets hated it. But its a Hollywood film set in Europe...a rehashed Bourne Movie so no points for originality, but executed well and keeps you entertained.
The premise is that Liam Neeson and his wife are on their way to a conference. He is in a taxi which crashes and when he wakes from a coma his identity, so he believes, has been stolen. What follows is a detective game to find it! I love a storyline like this, mainly because mystery keeps me intrigued and I am too stupid to actually guess the outcome.
January Jones stars as Neeson's wife. She doesnt really do much but looks amazing. Diane Kruger is no surprise as the European heroine though her accent leaves a lot to be desired. Its a short film, moves quickly and the outcome resolves everything. Easy viewing, never going to win an award but a perfect Saturday night in.
I'm starting to enjoy the career of Liam Neeson. Having never really seen him in earlier films, his similar turn in "Taken" and his well rounded turn as the baddie in "Batman Begins" has cemented his status as unlikely man of the moment in action films. Unknown puts Neeson back on foreign territory as a man who finds his life unravelled after a serious accident in Berlin.
As Dr Martin Harris, Neeson finds himself embroiled in a mystery after his car plunges into a river. Having been in a coma for four days, he comes out of hospital to find that his wife doesn't recognise him and is indeed married to another man who claims to be Dr Martin Harris. Abandoned in the city of Berlin, Harris knows nobody who can confirm his identity and even finds that the alternative Martin Harris can recite his life story almost word for word. As he begins to doubt his own sanity though, Martin finds himself the unlikely target of a would-be assassin, and finds that his only source of support is an illegal immigrant and a dying secret agent.
Unknown's plot is a bit of a cop out, but in fairness does reveal the most likely resolve for the storyline. Why would Martin's wife not recognise him, and why would somebody else want to take his place? He'd have to be somebody important for somebody to want to steal his identity, surely? The plot plays out in a somewhat clunky fashion, but heads towards a resolution that redeems the film from being a complete farce.
The backdrop of Berlin also gives the film a beautiful wintery feel that compliments the mysterious plot. However, director Jaume Collet-Serra seems amateurish at times with the action sequences. An adrenalin-pumping car chase should be thrilling, and would have been fifteen years ago, but with Hollywood action flicks upping the ante on plot and action sequences, Unknown comes off looking rather dated, staged and somewhat dull.
That said, Neeson is a growling tour de force in his role as the confused doctor. He is incredulous that his identity has been stolen for the first act, then spends the rest of the film in various modes that switch between anger, confusion and determination. In the hands of somebody like Jason Statham, this film would have been a mindless blow-up flick, but with Neeson at the top of his game, it elevates a somewhat sketchy film to a higher level.
The rest of the cast dont really get enough screen time to develop their character's. Even Diane Kruger, playing Gina, doesn't really seem to go anywhere. She is supposedly integral to the plot, and she does play it well, but you almost get the impression that she's surplus to requirement, and is only there because she's pretty good looking. Aidan Quinn is shockingly underused and couldhave been given more exposure, as could Frank Langella who isn't wheeled out until the last act.
The DVD of Unknown was released on Monday 18th July, although I haven't viewed any of the extra's. This review is purely of the film which I viewed on Wednesday night. I purchased it for £9.99 from amazon.co.uk.
Liam Neeson seems to be experiencing a bit of a mid-life resurrection in terms of his acting career. The strange thing is seeing it happen with action. First of all, Taken was an impressive action thriller, and initially Unknown seemed to be a carbon copy of it in terms of style. Dark and with Neeson looking panicked and dangerous (from what I could tell) there's a plot here which doesn't get fully revealed until the end, and I admit it completely got me.
Neeson plays Dr Martin Harris, in Berlin for a bioscience convention where leading scientist Bressler and a rich Prince are working together to produce something special - this is not elaborated on, just mentioned. When Harris is separated from his wife Liz (January Jones) after leaving a briefcase at the airport, a chance crash and a bash on the head puts him out of action for 4 days and results in temporary amnesia. However, when Harris gets back to the hotel, it seems that there's someone else in his place, and not even his wife acknowledges who he is.......
It's an intense tale of identity crisis, as we seek along with Harris to find out exactly what is going on. I spent a decent part of the middle of the film frowning as one theory was blasted as another formulated, with that in turn being blasted. Neeson plays Harris with suitable confusion and drama, and David Fincher knows exactly how to build suspense by using his leads and his considerable talent behind the camera. As we follow the 'hero' of the tale, there's a tendency to get a bit unbelievable, but luckily Fincher makes sure that every question is covered by a chance event or a witness statement, and the tension and desperation and confusion etched over Neeson's face just increases as the film goes on.
There are a couple of moments where things start to become clear and glimmers of clarity start to formulate,m but you're still never sure whether you've guessed right or not. This is largely helped by an impressive cast who are on form, with turns from Diane Kruger, Aidan Quinn and Bruno Ganz being very solid. The support from elsewhere is also impressive, with a short but impacting performance from Frank Langella as Harris's old friend providing a riveting few minutes behind him and Ganz as a former Stazi spy employed by Harris to help find out what's going on.
Fincher makes sure that things never get stagnant, and this is the key with the film. There are a few moments where you wonder about the relevance of things, and if I had a criticism then it would be that a few scenes are quite drawn out when they could have been shorter. As I said, it's never stagnant, but I felt that the impact and pace were slightly affected at points, and this results in the film being nearly 2 hours long. A fast action thriller with a plot that's not that deep when it boils down to it would have been served better as a shorter and punchier presentation, but Fincher does keep it the right side of entertaining and manages to keep enough going on to make this one well worth watching.
A good key of whether I've enjoyed something or not is whether watching it again interests me. I have to say that as soon as I finished watching it and all the pieces had been brought together, I had to go right back to the beginning and watch a few scenes for further clarification. The thing is, there are clues all over the place as to what is going on, but the way it's presented leads you down a completely different mental track. Things are suggested that lead us to form our own impressions of events, and this provides a solid barrier between what we think is going on and what is really happening. It's very cleverly done, and a film I highly recommend. It's not perfect by any means, and Fincher does have a few wavy moments. I felt it would have been better with a shorter running time, but the ultimate end result is one that's well worth it. Neeson seems to have found a good little niche here, I just hope that another film doesn't produce a character too similar to that of Taken or Unknown, as they're rather similar. Recommended.
Having turned himself into an action hero with guilty-pleasure film Taken, Liam Neeson continues to cement his unlikely status as tough guy for the new decade with Unknown a film which is pretty much an unofficial Taken sequel (the official one is currently being planned). It has the same style, similar plot lines, the same concentration on action over characters and it will leave you with that same slightly guilty feeling that you enjoyed this trashy film!
Martin Harris (Neeson) is involved in a car accident in Berlin. When he wakes up four days later, he finds his identity has been stolen, his wife refuses to recognise him and someone else has taken his place as her husband. Harris must fight to discover the truth about who he is and what is going on.
Unknown relies very heavily on unlikely coincidences, impossible events and preposterous plotting and acceptance of this fact is crucial in determining how much you will enjoy the film. If you take your brain out of gear and accept everything that happens with an industrial sized pinch of salt, then Unknown is an agreeable enough way to spend a couple of hours. If you're the sort who sits through films inwardly screaming "that would never happen"", then it will drive you mad. Characters do and say the most unlikely things, respond to situations and suggestions in a way that real people never would and generally act however the script needs them too, rather than how real human beings would react. A prime example of this is when Diane Kruger's cab driver agrees to let Harris stay with her, despite the fact she thinks he's crazy and is scared of him!
There's nothing terribly original about the plotting either. At times, it can be rather slow with neither plot revelations nor action sequences to enliven it. It's also nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. Just offhand, I can think of dozens of films that feature an amnesiac lead character trying to piece his life together and most of them are better than Unknown. Similarly, there's a significant development towards the end of the film which the writers seem to think is jolly clever and will astound and shock their viewers. In fact, it's so obviously signposted, and has been used so many times before that almost everyone will have worked out what is going on long before the truth has finally dawned on the unfortunate Mr Harris.
Unknown's most fundamental problem though is that it falls between two stools. There are not enough car-chases, fights or stunts for it to qualify as a fully-fledged action movie; whilst the rather obvious (and at times pedestrian) plot means it's not clever or intricate enough to pass as a thriller. What's there is enjoyable enough, but it needed something extra to lift it out of the realms of mediocrity.
There are essentially two real bright spots to the film: The first, of course, is Liam Neeson who rescued Taken from being silly and fights valiantly to do the same here. Neeson's hang-dog face, grizzled, slightly bewildered appearance and growling voice are perfect for the role of poor, confused Harris. Mind you, he's hardly taking this film seriously - there are several sequences where, despite being in the midst of tremendous peril, Neeson has a huge grin plastered on his face as though he can't believe he's getting paid to star in such pap! There are also times when he appears to be on autopilot but, to be honest you can't really blame him if he tunes out every so often - you, as the viewer, will find yourself doing the same.
The other bright spot is Bruno Ganz as Ernst Jurgen, a former East German Secret agent who agrees (for extremely flimsy reasons) to try and help Harris unravel the mystery. Ganz's weary outlook and cynical perspective make him a slightly tragic character - one who is still living in the past and find its hard (or more accurately refuses) to adapt to the present. This is a performance far too nuanced for this film and really belongs in something much better!
Amongst the rest of the cast, it's pretty much as you would expect, with no-one exerting a tremendous amount of effort. January Jones (as Harris' (possible) wife) is left with little to do except look pretty (until the film's climax when her role changes: she's then required to make a huge mess of things. Diane Kruger is suitably feisty and vulnerable as cab driver Gina, despite being called on to do some utterly implausible things, but her relationship with Harris remains unconvincing throughout. It's definitely Neeson and Ganz who are the lynchpins of the film. Without them it would be an utter disaster; with them it (just about) works
At the end of the day, Unknown has little or nothing to distinguish itself from the raft of other very similar films. It's the cinematic equivalent of a fast food burger: you enjoy it at the time, but an hour later, you regret doing it and find yourself still hungry. The presence of the solid and reliable Liam Neeson raises the overall quality slightly, but there's nothing here to get excited about, or that you will even remember a few days after watching.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Running time: approx. 113 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2011
After reading the description of this film on the cineworld website, I decided that I definitely wanted to go watch it at the cinema so later that day I suggested it to a few friends who said they wanted to see it too and off to the cinema we were to watch this film.
Dr Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) is invited to attend a biotech summit in Berlin and so he journeys to Berlin with his wife, Liz. He is involved in an accident after arriving, and wakes up in a hospital after 4 days in a coma to discover that his wife has not been contacted (as no contact information could be found on him) and has no idea where he is. Against the advice of his doctor, he goes to the hotel where he was going to stay to look for his wife. He finds her, but she does not recognise him. She then introduces him to her "real" husband-a man who even has an id claiming that he is Dr. Martin Harris. Harris' doctor did tell him that he might have difficultly remembering things but surely he can't have forgotten who he really is? So what's the truth-is Harris crazy or has he been replaced by an imposter who is so good at being him that even his own wife can't recognise him? Harris needs to find the answers to these questions and is helped in his quest to find the truth by a young woman named Gina (Diane Kruger).
What I loved about this film was that you couldn't really guess the ending. I really dislike going to watch thrillers that are predictable, allowing you to accurately guess all the twists and the ending. However, there were so many twists in this film that there was no way you could know what the truth was. You'd think one thing was true only to find out later that it wasn't! Despite all the twists, everything was clearly shown so there was no confusion and you could always understand what was going on. I thought the twists were very clever and unpredictable and really kept me interested throughout.
There was another reason (apart from the description) why I wanted to watch this film-the fact that Liam Neeson stars in it. I fell in love with him after watching Taken so I was really looking forward to his performance in the film and he did not fail to impress. The acting in general was really good as were all the stunts and special effects. We were all completely blown away, except for one friend who said it was good, but not great. She said that there are other films like this out there, but in my opinion that's true of any genre (chick flicks are usually all the same!) and I do think that this film is better made than any other thrillers I can think of. I was completely engrossed in the film throughout, wanting to know what exactly was going on, and trying to guess how things would pan out (none of us were able to successfully guess this though). The film was well paced-there were no boring scenes dragging on, and no scenes that were so fast that they left you confused.
Do I recommend this? Yes, if you are a fan of thrillers you will not be disappointed. This is definitely one to watch in the cinema as it is absolutely brilliant and hopefully, you will be just as blown away as I was.
This review may appear on other sites under the same username.