Unknown stars Liam Neeson as Dr Martin Harris, a man who’s taken a trip to Berlin for a biotechnology summit so he can give a presentation, with his wife, Elizabeth (January Jones), accompanying him on his travels. Alas, as soon as he gets to the hotel he finds that one of his bags has been left behind at airport. While the missus goes to check in, he takes a taxi back to the airport, trying to phone Elizabeth from his mobile but he just can’t seem get a signal (hmm…. must be on Vodafone!)
As luck would have it, a traffic accident causes the taxi to go off a bridge, causing Martin to crack his head against the window and make him pass out. Gina (Diane Kruger), the taxi driver rescues him and drags him to the surface, but then soon flees the scene.
Once in hospital, the doctor asks him his name. He replies and is told his heart stopped for several minutes and he was in a coma for four days. The doctor states that no identification could be found about his person.
Confused that no-one’s tried to contact him whilst in hospital, least of all his wife, Martin releases himself from his doctor’s care and goes to the hotel, tries to get access to his room but spots his wife and goes after her. On seeing her she immediately states she doesn’t know him. Martin tries to explain but she’s saying he must have her confused with someone else, and calls over another Martin Harris, played by Aidan Quinn. Even when the security guard does a search online, they can only find the fake Martin Harris, so what on earth is going on?
He also finds the cab in which the accident happened, but finds that driver, Gina, is a Bosnian illegal immigrant without insurance who is now working in a cafe. Basically, Martin’s life is in danger as he searches for answers and wants to make all the pieces fit together.
When it comes to the cast, Lian Neeson is as wooden as ever. I’m not quite sure why he gets picked for endless action roles – maybe he’s the go-to guy when Nicolas Cage is out of town? Similarly Mad Men‘s January Jones is equally bland as his wife. Diane Kruger, however, makes for decent support as the taxi driver who enters his life, and following a tip-off from a nurse at the hospital, Downfall‘s Bruno Ganz plays former member of the East German Secret Police Ernst Jürgen, whose role will become clear when you watch it, but I don’t want to give away anything that I wouldn’t want to have spoiled for myself.
Overall, Unknown is totally implausible and can be predictable at times, but it does the disorientation spect of the lead character very well and is nicely filmed. It’s also much better than Taken, a recent thriller of Neeson’s, but then that’s not saying very much.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the picture looks crisp and clear throughout, with some striking colours at certain times and all lending itself very well to the aforementioned disorientation of Neeson’s character. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
Audio-wise, the film is presented in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio and gets a bit of a work-out when it needs to, but it isn’t a 100% demo disc. That said, there are no problems with it at all.
The extras are as follows:
- Unknown: The Story (4:04): A brief puff piece, too short to be of any real value as various cast and crew talk about the film, mixed in with clips.
- Behind the Scenes (4:23): Basically more of the same. This is turning into a disappointing set of extras.
- Liam Neeson: Known Action Hero (4:32): A piece about how Liam Neeson makes a lot of action films, although I can’t imagine why as he’s such a wooden actor.
- Interviews: Separate ones, at a few minutes apiece, for Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, director Jaume Collet-Serra and producers Joel Silver
and Leonard Goldberg.
- Trailer (1:08): In the 2.35:1 original theatrical ratio, and one which I think gives too much away.
The menu features clips of the film set against the movie’s theme. There are subtitles in English only and the total number of chapters is a paltry 12. At nearly two hours, this film needs twice as many.
Prior to the menu are several trailers, all of which should not be placed here, they should be in the main menu’s extras, hence I’m not listing them here. Optimum, I’ve asked you to stop doing this, but this request is clearly falling on deaf ears. We are not in the age of rental video.
Running time: 113 minutes
Cat no: OPTDBD2008
Released: July 2011
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Digital Intermediate (2K) and Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Producers: Leonard Goldberg, Andrew Rona and Joel Silver
Screenplay: Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell (based on the novel “Out of My Head” by Didier Van Cauwelaert)
Music: John Ottman and Alexander Rudd
Dr. Martin Harris: Liam Neeson
Gina: Diane Kruger
Elizabeth Harris: January Jones
Martin B: Aidan Quinn
Ernst Jürgen: Bruno Ganz
Rodney Cole: Frank Langella
Professor Leo Bressler: Sebastian Koch
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.