Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

April 15, 2011

Identity crisis

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:30 pm

April 15, 2011

Cast: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Diane Kruger, Aidan Quinn, Frank Langella, Bruno Ganz

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Unknown, starring Liam Neeson, is a gripping suspense thriller about a man who wakes up from a coma to discover that his identity has been stolen.

Neeson’s character, Dr Martin Harris has just arrived in Berlin with his beautiful wife, played by January Jones. She’s the sort of icy blonde you’d expect to see in a Hitchcock film, and her steely glare alone is enough proof that all’s not well here.  Martin is in town to attend an international microbiology conference, but once he and his wife arrive at their hotel, he realizes that he’s left his briefcase behind at the airport. Hopping into the first taxi outside, he heads off to retrieve his belongings. But an accident causes the taxi to crash into a river, and Martin goes into a coma. When he awakens four days later, he hurries to the hotel to see his wife. As it turns out, she claims not to know him, and a man he’s never seen before pretends to be the “real” Martin Harris. Puzzled, he seeks out the taxi driver from that fateful day (played by Diane Kruger) to help him piece together what happened.

Intriguing for the first hour or so while it taps into the protagonist’s paranoia and his sense of exclusion in this foreign city, Unknown quickly boils down to a series of ridiculous car chases and shoot-outs. The plot itself, despite the brisk pacing, is ludicrous to say the least, but that nifty twist ending is impossible to predict. Much of the joy comes from watching a fine actor like Neeson pump believability into this far-fetched enterprise.

As thrillers go, Unknown succeeds in keeping you glued to your seat. And when you leave the cinema in the end and ponder its implausibility, you have to admit the ride was enjoyable nonetheless.

I’m going with a generous three out of five for Unknown. Despite its limitations, it’s a well-crafted B-movie that’s a fun watch.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. Who could miss Well-Known Liam

    Comment by priyabrata — April 16, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  2. This is a pretty ordinary piece of story telling. I didn’t find neither the story nor the character interesting. Liam neeson couldn’t pull it of either. I found his taken films more enjoyable.

    Comment by sreejith — July 7, 2013 @ 1:26 am

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