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February 22, 2011 > Movie Review: Unknown

Movie Review: Unknown

By Steve Ree Worley

Identity theft is a scary thing, and at no time is it more terrifying than if it happens to you, or if you watch the Warner Bros. film 'Unknown,' a new take on the theme of memory loss combined with identity theft. Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (January Jones) suddenly doesn't recognize him and another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired and on the run. Aided by an unlikely ally (Dianne Kruger), Martin plunges headlong into a deadly mystery that will force him to question his sanity, his identity, and just how far he's willing to go to uncover the truth.

Unknown carries an optimal amount of tension and release. It has all of the right action and suspense of a typical leave-your-brain-at-the-door action flick. But it also keeps you guessing as to the true nature of Dr. Martin's memory dilemmas. In an interview, Neeson said, "In a nutshell, it's an edge-of-your-seat thriller, kind of a homage to Alfred Hitchcock of the '40s, '50s and '60s." While Unknown is not quite to the level of a Hitchcock film, it does carry with it some of Hitchcock's style, with drama and plot twists almost worthy of the grand master, albeit at a much faster pace.

Comparisons have been made to 'Taken', a good movie also starring Liam Neeson. There is a bit of carryover through Neeson's persona and that is not a bad thing. Dr. Martin makes a phone call to the bad guys, but he doesn't say, "I will find you, and I will kill you." There is also a bit of Swartzenegger's 'Total Recall' element to it. It even has the slightest bit of levity to help relieve the tension... you'll see what I mean. And as a suspenseful action movie, it does fine, with the usual car chases, head-twist killings, and hand-to-hand fight scenes. As a faux murder mystery film with added plot twists, it carries it's own. While you're watching the film, ask yourself, "What is the significance of the briefcase?" and "Why didn't he tell his wife where he was going?"

With an all-star cast, the acting was spot-on. The best line of the movie... "Insanity is a war between being told who you are and knowing who you are. Who do you think will win?"

Some critics in the audience were unhappy with the film. I, on the other hand, will give it a B+. As an action-suspense film, Unknown is not just for the action-oriented males.

Rated: PG 13
Runtime: 113 min.

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