Unknown (12A)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner04/03/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 113 mins

Hugely enjoyable stolen identity thriller with pacy direction, decent action sequences, a gleefully bonkers script and a superb central performance from Liam Neeson.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Unknown stars Liam Neeson as Doctor Martin Harris, who's come to Berlin for a conference with his wife Liz (January Jones) but is involved in a car crash with taxi driver Gina (Diane Kruger) and winds up in a coma. When he wakes up, four days later, he is horrified to discover that his wife doesn't know who he is and another man (Aidan Quinn) has stolen his identity.

In desperation, Martin seeks help from both Gina and proud former Stasi agent Jurgen (Bruno Ganz), who begins to investigate partly because it reminds him of the good old days. Meanwhile vicious thugs (Stipe Erceg and Olivier Schneider) target both Martin and Gina and they soon find themselves on the run.

The Good
If you've seen the posters and publicity for Unknown, you could be forgiven for expecting an unofficial sequel to Neeson's previous action-fest Taken. If that's the case, you'll be greatly disappointed, because this is not that movie: instead it's much more similar to the likes of Polanski's Frantic or the sort of trashy thrillers that were all the rage in the 1990s.

Neeson is superb in the lead role – he's particularly good at conveying the angry frustration of a man who's used to getting what he wants. There's also strong support from Kruger and particularly Ganz (whose every line is a delight), though January Jones is unconvincing as Liz and Frank Langella's late appearance as Martin's friend and colleague, while enjoyable, probably does the film more harm than good.

The Great
Spanish director Jaume Collet-Saura maintains a terrific pace throughout, ensuring that you never have time to dwell on the plot-holes unearthed by the increasingly preposterous script. The fight sequences and action scenes are well handled too, particularly the opening car crash and the excitingly staged climax.

That said, there are one or two scenes that are a little annoying, most notably, a cut from Martin being frog-marched out of the hotel to the hotel manager suddenly allowing him to watch the CCTV tapes, with no hint of what Martin might have said to convince him.

Worth seeing?
If you're prepared to overlook its more ridiculous elements, Unknown is a highly entertaining, genuinely creepy stolen identity thriller with a terrific central performance from Liam Neeson. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Unknown (12A)
Unknown has been reviewed by 3 users
image
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

image
02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

image
03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

image
04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

image
05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 18/10/2017 03:02

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films