• Unknown

    Released By: Warner Brothers
    Released On: 06/21/2011
    Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
    Cast: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Bruno Ganz, Frank Langella
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    The Film:

    I couldn’t tell you exactly when it was that I developed my intense dislike for Liam Neeson. A quick look back through his imdb film credits doesn’t reveal any telling title that causes the veins in my eyes to stand out or an uncontrollable sneer to develop. All I can tell you for certain is that for a very long time, I went out of my way to avoid films that starred Mr. Neeson. I had a slight change of heart when I saw him in Batman Begins, playing a minimal role very effectively, and upping the ante during some of the fight scenes; but when I watched him kick an ungodly amount of ass in Taken, brothers and sisters, I was ready to testify…I was now a fan. So it was with absolutely no prejudice against my new-found friend that I checked out his latest film, Unknown, a thriller that had somehow flown under my radar. While it hasn’t returned Neeson to his number one spot on my blacklist of actors, it was more than a little underwhelming.

    Neeson stars as Dr. Martin Harris, a scientist who is visiting Berlin with his wife Elizabeth in order to attend a conference. He arrives at the hotel to find that he’s misplaced his briefcase, and grabs a taxi to head back to the airport to find it while his wife checks in. As luck would have it, his cab driver takes a detour through a guardrail and into a river. Narrowly escaping death, Harris wakes up in the hospital with a few bumps and bruises, but otherwise seems coherent. With any fears of memory loss assuaged, his doctor releases him from the hospital, and he returns to the hotel to find that a few things have changed.

    Arriving at the conference, he finds that his wife is not exactly thrilled to see him. Actually, she doesn’t know him at all. Nor does the man she is with…Dr. Martin Harris. Confused and irate, he draws the attention of the police, who agree to let him go if he returns to the hospital to sort out his obvious memory issues. The doctor and the police are convinced that he’s got a form of amnesia from his accident, but if that’s true, why does he have phone numbers of colleagues and friends back home? Why is he in Berlin in the first place? And why are the people who are trying to help him turning up dead?

    It sounds like an interesting concept, and it is. And it runs a pretty good race for the first couple of acts. Unfortunately, Unknown loses steam towards the end, and the conclusion is a letdown. I’ll spare the spoiler-laden details, but to say that the conclusion is pretty much the exact premise of another well-known series of films, a fairly modern well-known series of films would be accurate. So, instead of the duhn duhn DUHN moment of realization, we’re left with a couple of groans and the sound of somebody slowly letting the air out of an inflatable sheep.

    Unknown is not a total waste of time. The performances are very good across the board, and it’s cool to see actors like Bruno Ganz and Frank Langella (channelling a weird Christopher Lee thing) show up in small roles. The direction isn’t lacking either, with relative newcomer Jaume Collet-Serra doing a bang-up job…actually, considering that he’s primarily known for the House of Wax remake, it’s kind of a masterpiece. Despite all of these solid elements, the film still ultimately falls flat. But Liam is still okay in my books.


    Presented in a jazzy 2.4:1 transfer, Unknown looks great, with a solid, crisp presentation. Featuring a heaping helping of night-shot scenes, the contrast levels are well-balanced with deep blacks and no artifacting to speak of. The DTS-HD MA track is also well done with good bass response and liberal use of the surrounds.

    Unfortunately, while Warner has included some extras, they're not plentiful nor particularly exciting. First up is Liam Neeson-Known Action Star, which runs about four and a half minutes. It features interviews with the cast of the film talking about Liam Neeson's action-star capabilities, and utilizes clips from the film and on-set footage as well. I was really hoping that the next feature would have some more information, but Unknown: What Is Known? is another short piece about the same length as the first one, and is basically an EPK for the film, with interviews from the cast and crew, and clips from the film.

    The Final Word:

    Unknown is definitely one of those films that will have a fan base, though some will find it lacking in payoff. The supplements are not exactly noteworthy, but you won't find a much better presentation of the film than this blu-ray.