Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Running Time: 113 mins
Unknown is an American film about a successful microbiologist who arrives in Berlin for a major summit, but wakes up after a car accident with a confused memory of who he is, and why there is another man claiming to be him.
It’s really easy to get into a habit of dismissing films like this as ‘just another Liam Neeson action movie’, but I beg of you: don’t skip over Unknown. Not only a hugely entertaining action thriller starring Neeson at the top of his game, Unknown features some brilliant dramatic intrigue and gripping twists that makes it a genuinely exhilarating rollercoaster throughout.
Starting in enthralling style with a mix of fast-paced action and fantastically intriguing paranoia and mystery, there’s a lot more to this film than just watching Liam Neeson beat up bad guys for two hours.
For one, Neeson puts in a performance that’s just as impressive as all of his other action roles, where he always puts in real effort despite being lumbered with often tiresome screenplays and characters. Immensely likable from the start and fully convincing in a surprisingly complex role throughout, he fits the bill perfectly here, combining his action chops with real dramatic gravitas that works wonders for this story.
Alongside Neeson are the likes of Diane Kruger and Bruno Ganz, both of whom add a really striking energy to the film, while January Jones, Aidan Quinn and even Frank Langella play well as the film’s surprising antagonists, bringing together a particularly strong ensemble.
But beyond the cast, the screenplay here is really good. Though undoubtedly reminiscent of Total Recall (at times a little too much so), Unknown brilliantly combines crowd-pleasing action thrills with palpable dramatic tension and sharp intrigue and mystery right from the start.
The opening stages of the film are brilliantly perplexing, as you follow Neeson’s character as he is inexplicably replaced by an impostor, and even though the film offers up a series of answers throughout, the way the story twists and turns leaves you never quite sure what to believe, making for a thrillingly intriguing watch right up to the finish.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who has collaborated with Neeson on a number of projects, really impresses here, blending the enjoyable familiarity of a Liam Neeson action movie with a real commitment to telling a good story, bolstered by striking visuals and a powerful atmosphere of mystery throughout.
Overall, I absolutely loved Unknown. What looks on the surface like just another generic action movie is actually a genuinely thrilling watch, with great action, gripping drama, brilliant twists and striking mystery, all brought to life by a fantastic ensemble cast, a sharp screenplay and excellent directing. So, that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0.