Review: Unknown (2011)

Loosely based on Didier van Cauwelaert’s novel Out Of My Head, Unknown is an action-thriller from director Jaume Collet-Serra.

Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (January Jones) suddenly doesn’t recognise him, and another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity.

Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired and on the run.

Aided by an unlikely ally (Diane Kruger), Martin plunges headlong into a deadly mystery that will force him to question his sanity, his identity, and just how far he’s willing to go to uncover the truth.

In many ways the plotline is reminiscent of many recent thrillers, although not identical. It’s certainly infeasible to call Unknown an original entry into the fickle genre, but the script harbours enough twists and thrills to stop it being labelled a complete failure.

The same, however, can’t be said for the dialogue and delivery, which are both somewhat lacklustre in comparison.

On a positive note, the action scenes are excellently filmed by Collet-Serra, especially the superb car chases through the iconic streets of Berlin – entertaining to watch, but too generic to really matter.

Much of the cinematography remains squarely in the gray-blue territory which, along with the overblown colours used in the flashback scenes, is a choice that sometimes makes the action seem a little bewildering and uninspired for such an intriguing premise.

The acting, although a little exaggerated at times, is adequate enough, with steadfast turns from Kruger and Jones. Neeson, on the other hand, is a disappointment, reducing Martin to a irksome, uninteresting character. His performance here is almost exactly the same as the one he delivered in Taken.

Unknown is a humdrum, implausible and clunky action-thriller, with mediocre performances and direction.

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