Monday, February 21, 2011

Unknown Film Review

The movie, Unknown, is like the show "The Iron Chef." It's the Food Network show where cooks compete by making dishes with a mystery ingredient. Now sometimes the mystery ingredient can be a fairly easy one like steak but other times the show throws in something like beans. Well director Jaume Collet-Serra, screenwriters Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell are the cooks in this cinematic concoction. They took one part Bourne Identity, one part Salt and one part Hitchcock and mixed it in with the mystery ingredient of a blonde. The question is what kind of dish did they create.

Unknown starts with Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) checking in at Berlin hotel for a business conference when he notes that he left his briefcase with his passport at the airport. He gets a cab driven by Gina, played by the lovely Diane Kruger. Really? Cab drivers in Germany are that great looking? But I digress. They get into an accident and Martin is seriously injured. He wakes up in the hospital after four days in a coma. He remembers his name and his wife but little else. He goes to the hotel to find his wife only to find out that she doesn't recognize him and she is married to another person named Martin Harris. (Aiden Quinn) After he's ejected from the hotel, he goes back to the hospital only to discover there are assassins out to kill him.

Collet-Serra's direction is good. At times, he gets fancy when he moves the camera to weird angles, perhaps as a homage to Hitchcock. But the big problem is the script. Based on a novel by Didier Van Cauwelaert "Out of My Head", the screenwriters make some mistakes. They explain things after events happen. Without giving things away, Elizabeth's actions in one scene don't make sense until Liam Neeson's character explains it. By then, you the audience say, "Oh, that's what she was doing." Another problem is the lack of focus on Elizabeth. That's because the writers put the Gina character in a pronounced position in the film. Unlike a Hitchcock film, say like Vertigo, the blond is an obsession with the lead character. Here, Elizabeth is a blank page.

Which brings us to the mystery ingredient. The blonde. This blonde is the beautiful and sexy January Jones. Maybe it was intentional but she was bland as a mannequin. You really don't root for Martin and Elizabeth to get back together. And the screenplay leaves one big plot hole regarding her last action at the end of the film. You will say, "Huh, why did she do that?"

Okay, all that sounds like I hate this movie. No. The dish that was put out is not bad. It tastes good if you're hungry. Some ingredients don't mix. But it's well made. The action is good. There's still my pet peeve about shooting car chases with close-ups and quick cuts. I like to see cars running over streets. But that's minor. I was always thinking about how this movie would end. What really happened to Neeson's character. And for that, it was entertaining. Unknown is an interesting time waster. The grade is B.

No comments: