‘UNKNOWN’ (2011)


After a hiatus, Liam Neeson returns to the business of making movie with this thriller; and he shows no signs of slowing down. Now three years later, following his last action film Taken, he takes on a character living another’s life. But whose? unknown

Unknown (2011) Film Review 

With a profession that requires copious travel and various public speaking engagements, the prominent scientist Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) is currently on a plane to Berlin with his wife Liz (January Jones). The two are traveling overseas to a biotechnology summit. Amidst the work, speeches and lunches, the couple still plan to play tourists. After checking into their hotel, Martin realizes that he forgot his briefcase at the airport. He doesn’t bother to tell his wife that he’s running an errand and instead nabs a cab back to retrieve the luggage. On the way, there’s a terrible crash which puts Martin in a four-day coma. When he wakes, details are sketchy but he pieces enough together to make it back to the hotel. He’s happy to be reunited with Liz, only his relief is short-lived. Liz denies knowing Martin and instead introduces the man at her side as the “real” Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn).  

‘UNKNOWN’ (2011). A man tries to reclaim his identity when the woman he believes is his wife says she doesn't know him. Text © Rissi JC

Martin sets out to prove to everyone he is who he claims to be. Along the way he requires the help of a feisty cab driver (Diane Kruger) who has a secret of her own. 

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Identity as a main plot thread is always an interesting one. At some point or another, we might question our own, but this one makes the idea into a pretty good intellectual thriller. Unknown doesn’t have the action vibes it implies, but there is something about it that keeps you on the edge of your seat. For, probably the first forty-five to sixty minutes, the story doesn’t have good pacing. It’s sluggish and sometimes a little uninteresting. This I’m thinking after the film settles in and more faces about Martin fall as pieces of his past reveal. Writers have an ambiguous twist once everything (the mystery, the answers) starts to unravel. 

Lacking the debonair of a James Bond flick or the intelligence of the Bourne movies, this has a good cover to its plot, plus Neeson stars (duh!). Its cast is phenomenal and even Frank Langella co-stars in a small but important role. Anyone who likes Taken (highly recommend to those who love adrenaline rushes) will likely enjoy this. It has a lot of recognizable twists and turns that might seem familiar but are still fun.

Content: There’s profanity [GD and Jesus is used inappropriately] and intensity. This includes a hand-to-hand fight scene, then a man is crushed between two cars [a van careens over the edge with a person inside]; the “final” scene is the most “graphic.” There’s one huge explosion, and a dramatic car chase and accident. At least seven people die [one has her neck snapped, others re poisoned, still another is blown up, off-screen]; men wield guns and one man tries to kill someone by pumping a drug into their system. Many people are threatened with knives and/or guns; others are kicked, punched and stabbed. One semi-steamy sex scene takes place in the shower [nudity is shoulders and up, but the camera just barely avoids female nudity in one shot]; its length is shortened, but we see it over and over in flashbacks. The film is PG-13.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I can't remember if I've seen a trailer to this movie (I think I remember hearing the title in passing) but it sounds interesting, may have to check it out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this movie! =)

    1. It's really quite good, Lianne. There are flaws, yes, and maybe it's not Liam's "best" role but it holds our interest. Hope you like it if/when you see the movie. :)

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