Movie Review: Unknown

Posted by on February 19, 2011 at 3:28 am

I don’t know how it happened, but European thrillers – plump with car chases, beautiful photography, and even more beautiful scenery – seem inexorably tied to blustery, winter nights here in Colorado. Last year, it was From Paris With Love, the year before it was Transporter 3 and Taken, and so forth. It also seems fitting that Unknown takes place on a snowed-over Berlin: it’s like those dastardly Europeans are tapping into my brain. What I’m trying to get at is, at the end of the day, is this newest Liam Neeson joint worth scraping off the windshield? Hmmm…

Shortly after landing in the aforementioned German capital for a biochemical lecture, Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) and his gorgeous wife Elizabeth (January Jones) arrive at their hotel minus one briefcase. When the good doctor doubles back to the airport to retrieve it, a series of unfortunate events sends him and the cab driver (Diane Kruger) sailing into a river. He wakes up from a coma a few days later, but upon returning to the hotel, now minus any identification, he has a hard time convincing everyone he is who he states he is after an imposter Dr. Martin Harris appears and his wife denies his identity. Now lonely in Berlin, he only has a few loose strings to pull on – including the cab driver who fled the scene and a resourceful investigator (Bruno Ganz) – to try and get his life back the way it was.

If you’re watching any European-style thriller at this point, chances are you’ve seen all this before, but Unknown pulls it off well. The plot twists and twists and when it all comes to a crashing conclusion, you’re not left short-handed. Assassins are always a step behind him and we do end up empathizing with the guy’s plight. (On a nostalgic note, watching Harris wandering through German neighborhoods and utilizing the train system brought back fond memories of my time in Frankfurt as a kid.) If you’re not a fan of stylish cinematography then you might not get the point of seeing it on a massive screen, but upon home release, it’s a good enough film to settle down with a cup of hot cocoa, or whatever people drink in the summer. Kool-Aid? Water? Beer?

8/10 FleshEatingZipper

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