Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Unknown

Unknown-poster-2Cinema Monolith: 7/10 The Monolith
IMDb: 6.9/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: **½ out of 4

Released on February 18, 2011
Rated PG-13
113 minutes

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Written by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell

Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Frank Langella, Bruno Ganz, Sebastian Koch, Olivier Schneider, Stipe Erceg, Rainer Bock, Mido Hamada, Karl Markovics, Eva Löbaua, Clint Dyer

A man and his wife arrive in Berlin to attend a biotech conference, and when the man accidentally leaves his briefcase at the airport, he grabs a taxi and races back to retrieve it, only to have the cab crash and knock him into a four-day coma. When he awakens in a hospital, he has no identification, his wife doesn’t know him, and a stranger has not only taken his name, but taken his wife as well. Soon, a handful of killers are out to eliminate the man and anyone he comes in contact with, including the innocent cab driver who saved his life.

I don’t want to give too much away, but early on I couldn’t help but think of the Harrison Ford thriller Frantic and the little-known television series Nowhere Man, both of which featured storylines where family, friends, and acquaintances suddenly don’t know who you are, what it is you’re trying to convince them of, or why you keep bothering them. But of course, all is not what it seems in Unknown, and soon clues and reveals play out, and the story switches gears and becomes a sort of reverse variation of The Bourne Identity, where our hero discovers he’s more than just a guy casually dropping by a foreign botany convention.

Liam Neeson plays the guy, and I have to admit I’m kinda liking him in these ‘man of action’ parts he’s been involved with of late: the Taken series, Non-Stop, and last year’s Run All Night. To me he handles the task well, playing an everyday person thrown into events beyond his control, and convincing us that he can be pushed to a point where his skills at—and acceptance of—violence and killing are not only natural, but necessary. And exhilarating, if you’re anything like me, and enjoy seeing bad guys get their hard-earned due.

Sure, I had to suspend disbelief a few times with the action scenes, and too often the story structure felt derivative of those movies I mentioned above, but I was still consistently entertained, and the story kept throwing little surprises and detours out there to make up for some lapses in logic and believability. Without a doubt, it was Neeson who held it all together, and kept you wanting more, but I also liked Diane Kruger’s helpful cab driver, who displayed some kick-ass moments of her own, and director Jaume Collet-Serra, who’s worked with Neeson quite a few times already, and did a decent job here with the visuals and chase-and-crash sequences.

For me, this was a fairly decent psychological thriller, with some revved-up moments of action and gunplay thrown in for good heart-pounding measure. I’ll always get a kick out of these types of movies (maybe because sometimes I secretly wish I could be one of these guys), so they’ll always score an extra point or two with me for that reason alone. However, if that’s not your cup of tea, or if you’re not a fan of Neeson in head-busting mode, or if genetically-modified corn is not your idea of a solid plot device (seriously), then please take my review rating with a grain of salt.  (7/10)

Unknown - photo

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14 comments on “Unknown

  1. Fun movie with a bit of mystery and Liam once again in action, funny how his career has evolved into an action star. Good cast here as well helps and when you see Langella, you just know the path has to lead to his doorstep somehow. You might say he’s been rather typecast these past few years.

    • Todd B
      10/17/16

      Strangely enough, as I was watching this and first saw Langella, I thought, where did he go…I hadn’t seen him in anything in ages. After the movie I looked him up on IMDb, and realized, in the past ten years, I’d only seen one film of his, Frost/Nixon (and yes, I missed Muppets Most Wanted). However, no matter what I see him in now, I’ll always remember him for the 1979 version of Dracula.

      • Me too and I also liked him as Uncle Dog in the box office dud Cutthroat Island. I for one really like that film but it seemed to be doomed during production. However Langella makes an awesome villain in it.

      • Todd B
        10/18/16

        That’s right, I forgot about that one! I saw Cutthroat Island back when it came out, and I remember thinking it didn’t deserve all the negativity that was getting heaped on it from every corner. And check this out: a budget of 98 million, and a box office return of 10 million! Eeeouch!

  2. Stu
    10/17/16

    I’m appreciative of the plot recap as I have seen this but I’d forgotten a few of the details (ironically). I enjoyed it and, like you, I get a kick out of Neeson’s recent action films (though I’ve not seen Taken 3, Non-Stop or Run All Night). He’s nowhere near as naff as his 80s or 90s equivalents (cough cough Seagal cough). I’d also forgotten how good the cast is in this film…an impressive lineup.

    • Todd B
      10/17/16

      Yeah, lots of good people in this one, and it took me a while to figure out where I’d seen Diane Kruger…it was way back in Inglourious Basterds. And I had to look up ‘naff’: you’re right, he’s nowhere near as poxy as that poof Seagal!

      • Stu
        10/17/16

        I just watched Kruger in a film called The Infiltrator – she was pretty good.

      • Todd B
        10/18/16

        Hey, that was one I wanted to see, but never got the chance. And I found out it just came out on DVD, so I’ll check if my library has it yet. Thank you, o oracle of all things cinema!

      • Stu
        10/18/16

        It’s my pleasure, o recommender of Eegah!

      • Todd B
        10/18/16

        And as is our custom, our particular comment thread will end with the word…Eegah.

  3. grandrapidsgirl
    10/21/16

    One I have actually SEEN and enjoyed it too. Excellent re-cap TRB! And you ARE “one of those guys”!!

    • Todd B
      10/21/16

      Cool, glad you enjoyed it! And I’m one of ‘those guys’? You mean the kick-ass killing machine part, or the ‘I don’t know who I am and I’ve lost my briefcase’ part?

  4. grandrapidsgirl
    12/7/16

    LOL! 🙂

    • Todd B
      12/7/16

      I don’t know how to respond to that! So… 🙂

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 159

From the Monolith: 87

Movies by Decade

1920s – 0
1930s – 4
1940s – 11
1950s – 22
1960s – 30
1970s – 22
1980s – 25
1990s – 5
2000s – 10
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