Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Unknown" (2011) - Movie Review

Berlin has been made famous for its police siren than anything else through the Bourne series and so does “Unknown”. Stealing he concept of “Inception”, it can be said that Bourne series can be called as one of few thrillers that almost makes you believe like a dream in that moment as realistic. The same cannot be said much about “Unknown” a film bringing Liam Neeson to repeat “Taken” which swept the box office and little bit of critical acclaim. My enjoyment in “Taken” was calculated yearning for a better execution and “Unknown” does not qualify for that benefit of doubt.

The blonde bomb shell January Jones is the wife of Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson), Liz. Never trust a golden haired beauty in a film. And if she is your wife then the first thing to be done is to execute her. Martin and Liz are in Berlin for a biotechnology summit. Martin forgets his suitcase in airport and he goes to fetch it leaving Liz at the hotel. He gets into a nasty accident that leaves him in coma. Four days later he comes out of coma and wonders why no one has been searching for him. The suitcase has his identity and now without it no one in hospital have any idea who he is. He gets back to his hotel and alas! There is a Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn) with Liz . Liz claims to not recognize Martin at all.

After several chases and German accents with Frank Langella in a thankless role, the film ends with those new identities for the main characters we rooted for. The known trick for the film is entering directly into this new city with two new characters revealing easy information about them. You do not suspect much of them. We have only seen scientist being killed by the glorious villains, not pick up crazy tricks to drive madly in Berlin streets. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, picking Liam Neeson is the only best thing they did. No wonder Neeson fits right in as the clueless man in a strange city. It is kind of opposite of “Taken” wherein despite his stranger in a strange land he stands of being so home in it. Martin is a clueless scientist looking for answers, yelling and acting frustrated. Logic does not come into place when it is best needed.

Soon Martin gets pursued by non-speaking tough assassins. They always give enough time for him to grab something to escape or use something from the surroundings to counter attack. In this mix is Gina (Diane Kruger) the taxi driver that crashed him into river and is being pushed in as duo character for Martin. They are a good combination in car as apparently he has skills to drive rash while she can provide short cuts in downtown. Do not ask what difference it makes when they crash every vehicle in the process.

I personally believe that car chases should be banned here after unless there is a critical panel approving it in a thriller. After encountering an accident myself the belief of any one surviving the chase and walking in a straight line has been permanently altered. I can never see a crash in the same way again in a film. That does not mean I will not enjoy the chase in “The Bourne Identity”. It has just affirmed that a poorly made car chase is going to be amplified more of its faults to me. And “Unknown” has much of it.

There are obviously twists forming explanation of why someone would want to replace Dr. Martin Harris. What are they trying to gain out of it? After couple of news headlines sighting a professor and a Prince from middle east, you do not need a spy education to put things together. Anyhow, the final explanation of the identity crisis Martin has been literally put through is more than not satisfying. We frankly do not care.

Liam Neeson in a way as much as fitting to play Martin is also not strong enough to be the central man in action. All his roles have been phenomenally commanding and a confidence that throws off his enemies with a respect. Since he is not sure of himself, the film and his character for the film falters in loosing us towards being enthralled by this man’s ability to get into dangerous situations and tackle it. There are no punching combat that brings the audience to get up in surprise and energy of the capability this innocent scientist carries underneath. I am not going to say that “Unknown” kept me in the seat with time to go and so it will which is what the audience might come for it. I am not going to say that “Unknown” would invite those audience to expect “Taken” and give them nothing but disappointment. I am not going to say anything at all.

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