An average thriller worth a rental just for kicks and to see a pretty good cast, but don't expect anything amazing.
The script is full of holes while lacking any originality and all we get are some deleted scenes that unfortunately don't fill the holes.
When I first read the synopsis for Unknown came intrigued. Then when I saw the trailer all my intrigue went straight out the window. Unknown is basically your everyday "run of the mill" thriller. The idea seems very familiar and it is. Five men wake up in a warehouse completely locked inside. It appears that there was a hostage situation and something went horribly wrong. All five men have amnesia and we find out later that they are in a warehouse that houses a chemical that causes amnesia if inhaled (wow, how convenient!). So, they start out all working together as they try escape this warehouse, but soon their memories start to come back. They realize that two of them are the hostages, while the rest are kidnappers. We then realize a larger corporate scandal is at play and that the rest of the bad guys are coming back at sundown.
The plot sounds interesting, it really does, but the execution is just horrible. The screenplay is full of holes and some really stupid dialogue. There is no mystery for the audience to play around with, the film unfolds as it does and we don't get clues to put together. Writer Mathew Waynee tries now and then to lead the audience in the wrong direction only to show us the real truth, and to me it looked like a novice writer trying to be clever. The script never leads us in the wrong direction long enough for us to be surprised by a twist here and there. The reason why The Usual Suspects blew our minds was because the entire film was a lead on. Memento played out backwards and gave us real clues to use so that we could slowly pick the puzzle apart and figure out what's going on. Another thing about the film that was poor was its direction. Director Simon Brand made his directorial debut with this movie, and in all honesty there was no direction in the film. It felt so much like Saw (which I hated), it looks like it's trying to be a Memento, and it definitely is borrowing hints from Reservoir Dogs. In a word, this film is unoriginal. Also, the editing of this film was atrocious. There were parts where I couldn't even count how many cuts were in a scene. It tried to be hip and sharp, but it was just annoying. All things aside, did I enjoy it? Yeah, I guess I did. I thought the saving grace of the film was definitely its cast, which still makes me wonder how this low budget flick got all these actors.
The cast includes Jim Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Barry Pepper, Joe Pantoliano and Peter Stormare. All of these actors are great, but honestly the only person I can see in this movie is Peter Stormare since he does usually star in these types of films. It's so obvious that they could have handled so much more if there was a better script supporting the film. All in all I found myself the most entertained by the acting, not the plot. It was a very uninvolving film.
We have a selection of some scenes that didn't make it into the movie. They were definitely not cut due to time constraints since the film only runs for 85 minutes. I guess most of the stuff there was just sidetracked the central plot too much. I don't know why some of the scenes were shortened, but they were.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Since there are virtually no special features that means no compression problems. With tons of space left for video and audio we get a very sharp and balanced picture. I have to give credit to cinematographer Steve Yedlin for giving the film some very dynamic lighting. The muted colors and shades of gray, along with the lighting did give the film a consistent mood. Color tones are all perfect and the transfer overall is pretty solid.
Since the entire movie basically takes place in a warehouse that means minimal use of the surround channels. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is not all that dynamic, but the film really never calls for it. Dialogue is designated to the front channels with minimal use for the surround channels. In one scene Jim Caviezel fires a gun into the ground as a warning shot and it ricochets, and in all honestly that's the only time I recall the surround channels being used. Again, it's not a bad mix since the film doesn't call for it and takes place in a single setting.
The Weinstein Company gives a standard single-disc case with snapping locks on the side. We also don't get an insert inside.
Unknown is completely watchable even though it's seriously flawed. Since the film itself is relatively unknown (pun intended) we don't get any real special features. However, if you want to see some good actors trying to salvage the material then I recommend it as a rental. It's just not worth buying.