Unknown (Rated PG-13) 3 STARS
Unknown (113 minutes) is an entertaining drive through the spy genre even if the plot holes are big enough to drive a finely made German taxicab through. This particular version of a well-tread story is based on a French novel, but Director Jaume Collet-Serra doesn’t do a whole lot to distinguish his material from any other mysterious man films.
Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his daughter Elizabeth (January Jones) arrive in Berlin for a biotechnology summit. He gets a little handsy with her during the taxi ride over, which might explain her overall shirtiness when dealing with the hotel staff. That’s no way to love your daughter, Dr. Harris!
While his daughter checks them into a fancy suite, he realizes he left his briefcase with all his secret spy papers and espionage stuff at the airport so he runs to get it. He ends up in Gina’s (Diane Kruger) cab, and then Gina’s cab ends up in the river. In the first of many, “Gosh, should I save him? Yes, Yes I will save him” moments, Gina pulls an unconscious Harris from the river, and he is taken to a hospital.
During his coma he has many inappropriate flashbacks about his daughter — whoops, my bad, apparently that’s his trophy wife — and then wakes up to find that he has been in a coma. Since patients recently woken from a coma with no identification or any way of proving who they are get to do whatever they want in German hospitals, he checks himself out.
He manages to get back to the hotel he left from only to find another man macking on his wife and claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris (Aiden Quinn). Since secret agents have absolutely no survival instincts to draw on when they find themselves in bizarre situations, the man with no proof of his identity proceeds to raise a ruckus and draw lots of attention to himself. When that doesn’t work in his favor, he gathers his wits and tricks hotel security into getting him a cab back to the hospital, then tricks the cabdriver into letting him out immediately. Very tricky, this guy.
He draws on the apparently limitless funds he was carrying (while leaving all his important paperwork in a briefcase that he totally left at the airport) to blunder around Berlin for most of a day, never thinking to check in at the embassy. Because of the conspiracy? Or something? Eventually he decides that he is, in fact, as crazy as all the conspirators keep telling him he is, so he heads back to the hospital and stays safely out of the way until the end of the movie. Just kidding! A dude totally kills like, a million important people, and tries to assassinate him thus revealing that all is not as it seems. Duh. All in all, it’s not an awful movie.
Why the three stars? Well, when 58-year-old January Jones (or Kruger, for that matter) gets to run around with a 33-yearold James Franco, then we’ll start talking about an extra star. I would LOVE to provide a simpler example … but the male actors who are 25 years younger than January Jones are all currently starring on the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. So the only film where they work as romantic leads is the Lifetime Movie Network’s The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. And I don’t think January Jones has the chops for that. Because she can’t act. And while we’re on the subject, Maggie Grace, who played Neeson’s daughter in Taken is only five years younger than January Jones. Yeah. Think about that.
Wow. What a shame that busting on Unknown is so easy … it’s really not such a bad little movie. True, Liam Neeson has pretty much played out his “man with certain skills” range, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch him drive around crashing into things.