Zach Davis

Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz, and Frank Langella

Movies are a safe haven for the unbelievable and the impossible, and this should never change.  Some movies can take these two things too far, and Unknown is a guilty party in that respect.  Jaume Collet-Serra’s Unknown works around an interesting premise but delivers a predictable plot that gets quite ridiculous at times.  This Liam Neeson action vehicle is an unbelievably awful movie.

Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) arrives in Berlin with his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) to attend a biotechnical conference.  They take a taxi to their hotel but leave behind Martin’s briefcase by accident.  Martin realizes the briefcase is missing, and takes another taxi back to the airport.  On the way though the driver, Gina (Diane Kruger), swerves to avoid an accident and ends up crashing off a bridge.  Gina narrowly saves Martin’s life, and he awakens in the hospital not remembering much except his name. 

Upon seeing news coverage of the biotechnical conference, Martin remembers why he is in Berlin and rushes out of the hospital to find his wife.  He arrives at the function and manages to make it in to see his wife.  When he talks to her, Elizabeth has no idea who he is.  To add to the suspense, another man at the function claims to be Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn) and has a passport to prove it.  Without any identification to support his claim that he is the real one, Martin must elude the authorities and unknown pursuers as he unravels the mystery of his identity and why it was stolen.  He enlists the help of retired East German spy Ernst Jürgen (Bruno Ganz) who quickly realizes that something strange is happening.

The entire plot of Unknown depends on an inept Berlin police department, a hospital that takes no heed in the comings and goings of patients, and a city of civilians who don’t seem to notice or report any of the violent activities in the movie.  Assuming that everyone in Berlin is either stupid or oblivious to all that’s going on in the film is a really bad way to go.  It’s pretty absurd and reflects half-assed filmmaking at its worst.  Jaume Collet-Serra should be ashamed of himself for this one.

In addition to a poorly written plot, Unknown offers little in terms of character development.  The film doesn’t even have any badass action scenes to make up for this.  Liam Neeson has become a formidable action star in recent years, but even he couldn’t save the movie with all his star power.  To make matters worse, Diane Kruger once again plays a one-dimensional woman who happens to be dragged along by the ridiculous circumstances of the plot.  Her character certainly doesn’t help this crappy flick.

Not surprisingly, the secondary characters bring little to the table in Unknown.  The one exception is Bruno Ganz’s stoic performance of an ex-Stasi agent.  He delivers the one actually moving scene in the film.  Congratulations Bruno on having a meaningful, worthwhile performance in a movie that otherwise sucks.

Unknown shoots itself in the foot quite literally and can’t stand up to the cut.  The only way you’ll be able to sit through this pitiful action movie is if you can’t stand.  Having a few shots should certainly help you get to that point.  Unknown gets a wasted rating.  Don’t waste your time on this one.