Saturday, 19 November 2011


What do we have here?:

  • a Hitchcockian thriller filmed in Berlin; check
  • Liam Neeson as a man lost in a situation beyond his understanding and control; check
  • reminding me of Polanski’s Frantic, which I love; check
  • a surprise twist near the end that actually caught me by surprise; check
  • Bruno Ganz in a nifty supporting role; check
  • Frank Langella in another nifty supporting role; check

Yes, indeed, Unknown has a lot going for it. If only it could have sustained it to the end instead of simply resorting to excessive violence to kill off all the baddies. The film immediately lost half a star for that unnecessary nonsense.

Not that Unknown was perfect before that. Let’s focus on the surprise twist for a moment (trying hard not to give anything away). Prior to the twist, the film was in the land of the utterly preposterous, with all sorts of bizarre goings-on which just didn’t seem remotely explainable. But they were. So much so that after the surprise I said to myself: “Duh, why didn’t I think of this?” Unfortunately, the surprise twist unveiled an implausible and unexplainable element that was almost as bad as what it resolved. And the ethical implications of this were particularly worrisome.

And then there were all the car chases. If you like car chases, I suppose they were quite well done. But I don’t like car chases.

The cinematography was good, the score was fine, and the acting was generally better than average for a thriller (although I’m not convinced January Jones was the best person for her role; it was a very difficult role to play but still…). Unknown needed only a decent (and I mean that in every way) ending to put it into solid ***+ country, even with all its implausibilities. Nevertheless, I did feel entertained, it did get all those checks, and it did have Bruno Ganz in that nifty supporting role (the scene with Ganz and Langella was my favourite scene in the film), so I have to give Unknown a solid ***. My mug is up. If you like thrillers, you could do far worse than this one.

1 comment:

  1. Saw this one a while ago, and what you wrote matches my memory pretty well. Not at all sorry I watched it but wasn't recommending it to anyone. So I guess I'd agree to ***