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Unknown (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000153945
Added by: Ruthless Reject
Added on: 20/2/2013 01:53
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    Review for Unknown

    8 / 10

    After the success of the 2008 blockbuster ‘Taken’, which saw Liam Neeson obtain an image of mature action hero, it was no surprise that comparisons would be made between that and this above-average amnesia thriller. Although there are few similarities between the characters Neeson plays in both films, Unknown is more complex, and is surrounded by more mystery and intrigue, and a bit less action.

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    We’re with Neeson from the very first shot of Unknown. Gazing pensively out of a plane window, US bio-technologist Dr Martin Harris (Neeson), is travelling, accompanied by his wife Liz (January Jones), to a wintry Berlin, to attend and speak at a high-tech conference.

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    Arriving at their hotel, Liz goes to book in while Martin discovers his briefcase has been left behind at the airport. Leaping into another taxi, without so much as a by your leave, Harris tells the Bosnian immigrant driver, Gina (Diane Kruger), to ‘step-on it’. Taking a bad turn, the car careers out of control, and plunges into a river. Despite being able to free herself from the wreckage, Gina returns to rescue an unconscious Harris, but soon makes off once the emergency services are in attendance.

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    Harris comes round in a hospital bed, confused and with no recollection of anything other than his name and that he is married to Liz. The doctor informs him that he has been in a coma for four days, and no enquiries regarding a Dr Martin Harris have been made. After seeing a TV news story about the conference, and remembering he is supposed to be attending, he discharges himself, against the wishes of his doctor, and sets out to find his wife.

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    Returning to the hotel, Martin spots Liz, who fails to recognise him. Standing next to her is a man (Aiden Quinn) whose name tag reads ‘Dr Martin Harris’. Liz confirms this second man is her husband, and the pair seem puzzled by the unkempt babbling stranger stood before them. Hotel security is called, and Neeson’s Harris is escorted away. With no means to prove his identity, he finds himself ignored by disbelieving authorities, hunted by mysterious assassins, and aided by a couple of unlikely allies. Plunging headlong into a deadly mystery, Martin is forced to question his sanity, his identity, and discover just how far he is willing to go to uncover the truth.

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    Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Dr Martin Harris is outstanding. Although some people believe this genre to be beneath him, he is able to carry the film on his shoulders, and show he is still a bona fide leading man. Every emotion played out is detectable on his face, and in his gestures. Whether it be shock, confusion, bitterness, fear, paranoia, hopelessness, rage, guilt or remorse, you are drawn to the character. The interaction between Neeson, his co-stars, and the camera, strengthen his depiction of being Unknown.
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    The relationship between Harris and Gina, as they set out to prove his identity, is an unlikely one, which only intensifies as the storyline moves on. Having issues of her own, and not wanting to draw any unnecessary attention to herself, she is reluctant to assist Harris when he first approaches her, but as circumstances change, they are drawn closer together. Diane Kruger shows her talent as an actress in her role as Gina, and like Neeson, plays the character, and her emotions, superbly.

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    Bruno Ganz gives no sort of an Oscar-worthy performance as Ernst Jurgen, a veteran Stasi operative, turned downbeat private detective, who gets ahead of the game. Despite only having the three short scenes, Ganz steals the show in a deadly confrontation between Jurgen and Rodney Cole, the head of Martin’s department back in the States. Portrayed by Frank Langella, Cole’s late appearance adds yet a further twist to the ever-changing plot. However, January Jones and Aidan Quinn are both disappointing in their roles as Liz and the second Dr Martin Harris. Both give a very stiff performance, which leaves you wandering if they were last minute fill-ins.

    Director Jaume Collet-Serra, and writes Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwall, have produced a professional thriller. Featuring an intriguing and believable storyline, intense and high tension action scenes, speedy car chases around Berlin, and one remarkable performance that outshines the rest, Unknown ticks all the necessary boxes. The plot could have easily been something predictable and safe, and while it does contain the elements you would expect – a catalyst to get the story moving, a mystery that needs solving, thematic conflict and tension, bad guys to overcome, and finally a resolution – the twists and turns of the storyline kept me captivated and on the edge of my seat. You really don’t have a clue as to what is actually going on until very near to the end, and even then it’s hard to tell what will happen. Personally, I would have preferred the final twist to have occurred earlier, leaving Neeson more time to kick some serious action moves, but all in all the timing is superb.

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