“I Didn't Forget Everything. I Remember How To Kill You, A**hole.”
October 12th, 2012
It would be very easy to say that Liam Neeson has successfully transitioned from movies by the name of "Schindler's List", "Michael Collins", and "Les Misérables" to ones such as "Batman Begins", "Taken", and "The Grey". It would also be quite easy to say that he has cemented himself as one of the go-to actors if you were planning on making an Action Movie that needed a man who has fought a Sith, trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, trained Batman and Bane, established a secret society of assassin's, and has been a Jedi Master, an ex-CIA operative (twice, sort of), a knight, the Greek god Zeus (twice, again), Aslan the Great Lion, and a survival expert who fights man-eating wolves with broken miniature bottles of alcohol and a knife taped to his fists. Yeah, you could say all of those things.
In "Unknown" we find Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife of five years Elizabeth "Liz" Harris (January Jones) arriving in Berlin for a biotechnology summit. After misplacing his briefcase, Martin takes a taxi driven by Gina (Diane Kruger) back to the airport where he left it. During transit, a refrigerator secured to the back of a truck comes free and falls into the road, causing the cab with Gina and Martin to swerve and drive off a bridge into the river below. After waking from his coma, four days have passed and returns to the hotel that he and his wife were set to stay at. Only when he confronts Liz to tell her what happened she act as if she doesn't know him and calls over her "real" husband (Aidan Quinn). Shocked, Martin is removed from the hotel and sets out to find out who he really is.
Back in 1999, when I first saw Liam Neeson as the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, I had no idea that that same actor would go on to become one of the better Action stars of our time. Granted, he's not the best but he certainly is better than some of the other half-witted meat-heads who can repeat words constructed into fully formed sentences. Also granted is the fact that 1999's "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" may not have been the best or most preferable movie to first see him in. But as a seven-year-old child, watching that man jump around, fighting bad guys and robots while swinging the coolest looking sword I'd ever seen, it was awesome.
Fast forward to the year 2012 and then go back in time to 2011. After having seen 2008's "Taken" I was very eager to see Mr. Neeson in more roles like that of Bryan Mills. So imagine my surprise when the full-length trailer for "Unknown" is shown. The plot looked interesting enough, if not a slight homage to "The Bourne Identity", and it starred Helen of Troy and Alfred Ludlow. Who by the way I haven't seen in hardly anything since "Legends of the Fall". But that could just be he hasn't done much of anything to stick in my mind. Anyway, that's not important.
Having not seen "Unknown" since its release back in February of 2011, I was interested in watching it again, mostly to see if it would have the same effect it did back upon its first viewing. I can say that while just under what I remember, "Unknown" is still a fun, enjoyable movie. Especially if you like watching Liam Neeson beat people up with his bare fists. Okay sometimes he uses a crowbar and a shard from a broken mirror. But don't expect much else. While fun and sometimes engaging, "Unknown" is almost a retread of The Jason Bourne movies, minus the globe-trotting, government coverups, and crappy sequel (or was it a side-quel?).
Liam Neeson is certainly believable in his role as Martin Harris. When he wakes from his coma and the doctor asks him the routine questions, I felt genuine sympathy for him as he struggled to remember who he was and what had happened to him. And as he makes his way across Berlin, going here and there, I'm invested in what's happening on-screen before me. If it weren't for his performance and the performance of Ms. Kruger, I would call this movie outright boring. Thankfully January Jones wasn't as wooden and flat as she was in "X-Men: First Class". I was surprised when she managed to show some actual emotion. Although there is one other complaint I have with her and her character: (Spoiler-ish) If I was trying to unplug/disarm a bomb I had planted in a wall, I sure as Hell would have moved with more urgency than she did. Or I would've just taken the blasted mirror off the wall. But then again, I don't deal with bombs on a regular basis.
Aside from the sometimes sub-par acting, the only solid complaint, if I could call it that, would be the story. The story of "Unknown" isn't so much a carbon copy or homage as it is a reassembly. They took out the government agencies and conspiracies, the globe-trotting, and exiting fight sequences and left the memory loss, multiple passports, and thugs following the lead and his girl trying to kill them. I did particularly like the little touch of having the camera spin slightly when Martin first meets back up with Liz and also during the second hospital scene.
I'm also glad that the people behind this movie haven't decided to press on with a sequel. Because honestly, where could it go from where it left off? As it is now, "Unknown" is a good one-off movie. As tempted as I am to say, "It doesn't need a sequel" I said much of the same thing after I seeing "Taken" and look what's happened with that.
All in all if you're looking for a fun, Friday or Saturday movie theater replacement, and you haven't seen it already (or if you have and enjoyed it as much as I did) go ahead and rent/buy/borrow "Unknown".
This was a review by tMG. Thank you for reading.