It’s hard to catch the heat of a “out of nowhere” hit film, but Taken was massively successful, and so Liam Neeson has become an action movie star. But if taken worked because of its simplicity, few films he’s done since have captured that magic. Unknown stars Neeson as Dr. Martin Harris, who’s in Germany with his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) when he forgets something back at the airport, and ends up in a car crash with his driver Gina (Diane Kruger). When he wakes up, there’s another Martin Harris (Adian Quinn), and even his wife doesn’t seem to know him. From there the plot thickens. My review of Unknown on Blu-ray follows after the jump.
So it’s starts with the set up, there’s a bag left at the airport, accident, four day coma, everyone treats him like a stranger. But the further he looks into things, the more strange they become. Eventually he brings in Ernst Jürgen (Bruno Ganz), an ex-stasi who now works as a private dick. As things start to unravel, the danger increases for Neeson’s character, and Kruger’s – who becomes his girl Friday.
First, it should be noted that director Jaume Collet-Serra knows what he’s doing. There are some great sequences of tension and inter-cutting that show someone with a fine hand behind the camera. It’s a well put together film. Alas, the script is clever enough, but the pieces don’t really come together in the end all that successfully, and though many referenced the film’s Hitchcockian feel, there’s a more modern film that seems to have played a bigger role in the film’s development, and to mention it would be a big spoiler.
But when that reveal comes, what we’re presented with and how that turns isn’t as effective because of how it changes what has come before. It’s a great twist, but the moral components don’t come together in a satisfying way. Still, as something to watch at home, it’s competent and the cast is mostly good.
Alas, it must be noted that January Jones is not a movie star, and – frankly – after seeing this and X-Men: First Class, she doesn’t seem to have much range as an actress. As great as she was in the first couple seasons of Mad Men, it seems she was well cast, but that her range is very, very small. I hate speaking ill of her as a performer when there are so many factors that go into a film, but at this point, she seems more like an Estella Warren than a Michelle Pfieffer or Jessica Lange – one of those great beauties who also have a facility to emote. This is probably the end of Jones’s run on the big screen, and the world seems to have turned on her as well.
Warner Brother’s Blu-ray presents the film in a perfect looking widescreen (2.35:1) transfer with DTS-HD 5.1 surround. The Blu-ray also comes with a DVD and Digital copy of the movie. Extras are limited to two featurettes “Liam Neeson: Known Action Hero” (5 min.) and “Unknown: What is Known” (5 min.). They must not have thought much of the movie, as these extras feature overlapping quotes from the stars. These featurettes feature laudatory comments from the cast and crew about how great everyone is.