Unknown: a horrible case of déjà vu

By Wren Culp

Staff Writer/Web Mananger

Oh, what a career Liam Neeson has had. Going from being a fork-lift operator to a considerable actor, Neeson has soared into the spotlight with countless hits like Schindler’s List and Taken, and now he has returned to the big screen with his latest movie, Unknown.

As a movie buff, I noticed the trailers for films are often better, just as good or worse than the movies themselves. But when I saw the trailer for Unknown, I definitely didn’t know what to expect.

The trailer shows Martin Harris (Neeson) get into a car accident while in Germany and almost drown before he is saved by the cab driver. When he awakes after a four-day coma in the hospital, his memory is hazy and he has no idea where anyone he knows is.

To make things more interesting, he finds his wife, but she has no idea who he is and, when he tells her he is her husband, she calls over a man who she says is her husband. All the information, including pictures, identifications and even websites, have changed to say that this new man is Martin Harris. And the trailer is over.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I saw the film, but I got a sense of déjà vu and thought, “Oh my gosh, the American government is somehow involved in this”. I was right on both senses.

In a nutshell, the film is like a giant movie trailer, never really sticking with points or characters for too long, and the plot becomes lost in translation after a while.

The film starts off with a well-conceived and smart plot, but as the film progresses, it is ruined by clichés and pretty bad one-liners. Some of the lines sounded like David Caruso from CSI: Miami.

I’ve always been a pretty big Neeson fan, especially when it comes to the movies like Taken and The A-Team, which I personally love. But watching Neeson in this film is much like watching Jason Bourne’s dad: his action is there, as always, but everyone around him suffers, especially Diane Kruger.

To be clear, I absolutely fell head over heels for Kruger’s performance in Inglorious Basterds, as it is one of the best along with Brad Pitt’s in the film. But when she attempted to reprise her modern German accent and even German clothing in Unknown, she fell flat on her face.

The film is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax, Orphan) but the directing is so detached and terrible that I don’t know if it’s worth getting into. I felt very little personal connection with any of the characters; I walked out of the theater not caring about the characters at all.

Another thing I found funny and cheesy about the movie is Frank Langella’s (Frost/Nixon, Good Night and Good Luck) character in the film. He had some reason to be there, unlike Bruno Ganz’s character, but everything he did sounded exactly like he was reading from a textbook on how to be the head of a government organization. (cue the David Caruso one-liners).

With the backdrop of Europe, I will admit the scenery visuals are pretty stellar along with the coloring of select scenes, but unless you’re a movie buff, why would you care about that?

Overall, I felt like I either watched Jason Bourne in 20 years or watched his father because Neeson’s deep voice and decent acting can’t bring this dull plot back to life. If you miss this one, you’re not missing much.