By Caryn James | James on Screens February 16, 2011 at 8:02AM
If you’re watching an action- thriller about a man who wakes from a four-day coma, only to be told he’s not who he thinks he is - but whoever he is, thugs are out to kill him - you really shouldn’t be able to guess the big reveal halfway through. That is true even when the mystified hero is played by the ever-dynamic Liam Neeson, heroically trying to turn the pedestrian Unknown into something as energetic as the much better Taken. I’m not proud of guessing the movie’s secret; in fact, I felt like an idiot for not having guessed it sooner, Unknown is that obvious.
Everyone and everything looks pretty, though, starting with Neeson as Martin Harris, a scientist visiting Berlin for a conference with his wife, played by January Jones. We see them arrive in Berlin at his hotel; we know he’s Harris.
As he races frantically back to the airport to retrieve the briefcase he has left behind, he gets in a taxi driven by Diane Kruger, which might seem like good luck until she plunges off a bridge. Days later, he awakes and makes his way back to good old January, who doesn’t know him. So he makes his way back to good old Diane - an illegl immigrant from Bosnia, as if the plot wasn’t overloaded enough - and together they race around Berlin trying try to sort out his mega-identity-theft problem.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra (he also did the much-ridiculed horror film Orphan) sends Neeson and his stunt-driver zooming through the city streets, but doesn’t seem to care that this wheel has been reinvented many times before. He’s lucky to have cinematographer Flavio Labiano, not well known but someone with a good eye and a future.
The film gets a great boost about three-quarters of the way in when Bruno Ganz turns up as a former Stasi agent with a twinkle in his eye (strange breed, those former agents) who tries to help Harris find the truth. Enjoy the performance; you will certainly be way ahead of the plot by then.
See for yourself: