out of Five
Running time: 81
Enjoyable thriller with superb performances, a decent plot and some thought-provoking ideas about identity and human nature underneath its twisty tale.
What's it all about?
Five men (including Jim Caviezel, Greg Kinnear and Barry Pepper) wake up in a locked warehouse with no idea of who they are or how they got there. The evidence suggests that two of them are kidnapping victims and the other three are hardened criminals, but the men have no idea who's who so they try and piece together what happened.
It soon emerges that an escaped chemical is responsible for their collective memory loss and tension mounts as their flashback-assisted memories slowly return. Meanwhile, outside the warehouse, a woman (Bridget Moynahan) is working with the police and paying a ransom in order to trap one of the kidnappers (Peter Stormare).
Unknown boasts a superb, engaging premise, even if it's basically a rip-off of both Cube and Saw. The performances are excellent, really drawing you into the story as the characters struggle to remember who they are, particularly Kinnear, Pepper and Caveziel, who quickly emerge as the strongest personalities.
Although the film sticks closely to the thriller template, the concept nonetheless throws up some thought-provoking questions, such as whether people are inherently good or evil and whether someone would choose to change their ways if given the choice. It's fascinating to observe these characters react in tellingly different ways and the film really makes the most of its central gimmick.
If there's a problem with the film it's only that the twist-laden finale comes dangerously close to spoiling the film by making no sense at all. That said, the ending will at least provide plenty of material for post-film pub discussion and you'll still be trying to puzzle it out days later.
Despite the occasional flaw, this is a snappy little thriller with superb performances and an engaging, thought-provoking plot. More films like this, please.