Having tasted unexpected and overwhelming success with 'Taken', Studio executives decided to send Nesson back to Europe for yet another action-thriller. Why he chose to board the flight is another question altogether.
Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Nesson), an American university professor travels to Berlin for a conference. His wife, Elizabeth (January Jones), is traveling with him. A mix-up with his luggage at the airport requires Martin to return to the airport urgently which he conveniently does so without informing his wife. The cab in which he's traveling is involved in an accident which leaves him barely conscious by the side of the road while he's rescued by an illegal Bosnian immigrant, Gina (Diane Kruger) who then vanishes as quickly as she had appeared. Martin slips into a coma, only to wake up four days later with a hazy memory. He literally forces his way out of the hospital back to the hotel where his wife is only to be confronted by Elizabeth who doesn't recognize him. Infact there is another man (Aiden Quinn) with her who claims to be the real Dr. Martin Harris. With every needle pointing in the direction of a delusional state of mind Martin starts to accept the reality that he might have gone bonkers, that is until there are attempts made on his life. From here on he tries to go back and solve the mystery and regain his "stolen identity".
I'm sure the makers thought 'Hitchcock' when they started working on it but the final product with the preposterous reveal is like a cheap imitation. Actually even preposterous is a mild word for the explanation that is provided and to describe what occurs after the big reveal. But I have to say that the movie bears more than its share of similarities with Roman Polanski's 'Frantic', where Harrison Ford played a doctor visiting Paris who gets sucked into trouble when his wife suddenly disappears.
For nearly 3/4ths of its running length the movie moves at an exciting pace which promises an interesting reveal and keeps the audience guessing but the moment the reveal is made, everything collapses like a deck of cards. All the possible cliches you might expect are to be found here in abundance towards the end.
One particular aspect of the movie I loved was the look and feel, the cold vibe that permeates through the entire production, giving it the look and feel of an old-school espionage flick. The background score too worked for me particularly in accentuating the action on screen.
Liam Neeson is in top form in a role he can play in his sleep. Diane Kruger is competent enough while the stand-out for me was Bruno Granz as Jurgen. Now Jurgen was a character I would have loved to know more about. Frank Langella i have to say unfortunately is less-than-stellar in his small role.
'Unknown' has enough "intelligence" & "excitement" for 3/4ths of its running length to make keep an undemanding audience hooked on. However I feel even the most accepting of viewers will find it difficult to forgive the transgresses of the final act.