Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Premise: After a traffic accident, a man awakes from a three-day coma and finds that his wife and business associates don’t remember him. While trying to recover his identity, he gradually reveals a sinister plot.
What Works: Liam Neeson plays the lead and Neeson is a reliable actor. Even in a film that is below his talents, he still delivers a worthwhile performance.
What Doesn’t: Unknown is a thriller so desperate to outsmart its audience that in the process it carries its credulity well past the breaking point. The film relies on a lot of coincidences and it does not handle the mystery very well. The middle of the story teases at various explanations but it mishandles the most compelling elements of the story. This is a movie about identity and the way our sense of self is determined by our beliefs about ourselves and by the company we keep. When that is stripped away from Liam Neeson’s character he faces an interesting existential crisis that in a more thoughtful script might have been brilliant. But the filmmakers behind Unknown prefer car chases to philosophical investigations and so they drop all the interesting material by the halfway point of the film. When the truth is finally revealed it is underwhelming and fairly absurd; the solution actually creates more problems for the story, as the film drops everything that the audience was invested in, and it thrusts Neeson’s character into action mode with a lack of motivation.
Bottom Line: Although it is well intentioned, Unknown is a stupid movie. Its story is misdirected and its efforts to complicate the plot just make it more and more confusing.
Episode: N/A (February 20, 2011)