Irish hunk Liam Neeson loses it in Unknown.
Liam Neeson plays botanist Martin Harris, who is traveling to a conference in Berlin with his wife Elizabeth (January Jones). Arriving at the hotel, Harris discovers that his briefcase was left behind, so he grabs a taxi back to the airport. But when his driver swerves to avoid an accident, their taxi plunges into the river. Harris wakes up in a hospital after four days in a coma, returns to his hotel, and discovers that Elizabeth doesn’t know him; she’s with another man who claims to be her husband, Martin Harris. Don’t you hate when that happens?
Unknown is about a man reclaiming his identity when it suddenly disappears, a task that requires superhuman fortitude, speed, persistence, and eyes in the back of his head. Because in addition to being displaced, Harris discovers he’s being followed by ruthless enemies who want him dead. Without his passport—still in his briefcase that he has yet to retrieve—Harris is alone, and an unknown person. But he rallies a couple of allies along the way, including Gina (Diane Kruger), his lovely young taxi driver and illegal Bosnian immigrant, who rescued him from the river.
Trying to unravel a mystery and reclaim his identity, Harris is stranded in a foreign country like a fugitive on the run. In fact, his dilemma reminds us of Harrison’s Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, who had to reclaim his life singlehandedly against impossible odds. Certain screen stars are up to the task of such hopeless assignments. For the robust, Irish-born Neeson, middle age is bringing out the best in his attractive six-foot-four stature. In Taken, he shows us his chops as the retired CIA agent who tracks down his abducted daughter, leaving a serious body count in his wake. Neeson’s star has risen, boosting his screen power to James Bond action-figure status. He is the man for the job.
By the end of the film, the mystery unravels in ways we could never imagine, unless we have read the novel on which Unknown is based: Out of My Head, by Didier van Cauwelaert. You will never be bored by this imaginative mystery thriller that speeds us through the streets of Berlin. And while it may not feel every bit as satisfying as Taken or The Fugitive, this film is fast, riveting, and filled with unknowns, and leaves us with the valuable lesson: hang on to your briefcase. B+
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