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Movie Review

Unknown

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sexual content.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Suspense Thriller Drama
Length:
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
February 18, 2011 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: June 21, 2011
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Identity theft

Thieves in the Bible: Theft, Robbery, The two thieves

Stealing

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

Featuring: Liam Neeson (Dr. Martin Harris), January Jones (Elizabeth Harris), Diane Kruger (Gina), Aidan Quinn (Martin B.), Frank Langella (Rodney Cole), more »
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Producer: Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC), Davis-Films (Paris, France), Deutscher Filmfoerderfonds (DFFF), more »
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Take back your life.”

Copyrighted, Warner Bros. Pictures

In “Unknown,” Liam Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris. He and his wife Liz (January Jones) are traveling to Berlin to attend a biotechnology summit. Upon arriving at their hotel, Martin realizes he has forgotten his briefcase back at the airport, which contains all of his personal information. Without telling his wife, Martin hurriedly catches another cab back to the airport. Along the way, he’s involved in a car wreck and gets knocked unconscious. The taxi driver, Gina (Diane Kruger), rescues him, just as the paramedics arrive. Once he’s safe, she silently walks away from the scene.

When Dr. Harris finally awakens, he finds that he has been in a coma for four days. Along with no identification, his head trauma has caused him to suffer from mild amnesia. When he’s finally able to remember enough to return to the hotel, he sees Liz, but his happiness is short lived. Upon seeing her husband, Liz stares at him blankly and claims that she doesn’t know him. Dr. Harris remains adamant and shocked, but Liz then introduces her real husband, who is also Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn).

The amnesiac Dr. Harris believes he might actually be crazy, until he notices he’s being hunted down. After narrowly escaping a hitman, Dr. Harris is determined to prove his identity. He hires a private investigator and tracks down Gina in order to get behind the mystery of his identity once and for all.

No doubt Liam Neeson is a talented actor who can hold a movie on his own. While viewing this film, it’s hard not to compare it to Neeson’s 2009 hit “Taken.” While the latter is a tight thriller, “Unknown” is also entertaining and extremely well acted, but its implausibility and somewhat unoriginal twist, damage its entertainment value. The men tracking down Dr. Harris are very loud and careless, at times. In addition, once the twist is revealed, it isn’t quite dramatic or emotional enough, but simply moves on to the next scene. Though the film has some minuses, it’s well paced, never lingering in one place for too long.

Objectionable Content

In all, there are about 15 uses of profanity/vulgarity, including 1 GD and about 2 sh*t. Besides the profanity, there’s a moderate amount of sexual content. There are several flashbacks where Martin and Liz are shown kissing in a shower. Only her upper chest is shown; these aren’t too graphic and are between a man and his wife. Near the end of the film, Liz is shown in a very low-cut evening gown. When visiting Gina, she and Martin hear her neighbors having sex through the thin wall. The noise gets louder, and once it’s over, she comments that the man “never lasts long.” Gina makes a joke about sleeping with every American.

Besides a couple of car chases and some fist fights, the violence is heavy due to some rather graphic murders. One woman gets her neck snapped; another gets stabbed in the neck. One character commits suicide by drinking cyanide, while another gets smashed by a car. Two other people die by explosion. And finally, one man is injected with a drug and slowly dies.

As Dr. Harris regains more of his memory, he becomes more unhappy. However, Gina tells him that what matters is what he does now. She’s right. Though we might make mistakes in life, the important thing is to keep improving—becoming more like Christ. In Ephesians 4:22-24, Paul writes:

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

“Unknown” is a fairly decent thriller. I’m a fan of Diane Kruger, and it was nice to see her hold her own alongside veteran actor Liam Neeson. Though I do not personally recommend the film, my advice for those who like action thrillers is to wait until the DVD release.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This is an excellent and compelling film that I recommend. It is not a Christian film, although there is repentance in the end. I cannot get excited about Bosnia-Herzegovinians evading German passport requirements, so I guess, in the end I have no objections to the film from a moral perspective, albeit some will be offended by the aspect that crime does not seem wholly to bring condign secular punishment. In this world, I think that we have to be content with the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. This film meets that standard.

It is a taut thriller mystery, and it is entertaining, with a twist which completely surprised me. The twist is eminently believable. It is well shot and well edited, but I am getting a bit tired of the Ridley Scott “Blade Runner” ultra dark color shots. It was fascinating almost 30 years ago—today, it is unimaginative. The film is about contract killing, accordingly, it is not the sort of film that anyone should go to who is not mature. There is a high body count.
more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Blue, age 52 (Australia)
Positive—This was a pretty good thriller. It had likeable characters to root for, and the plot kept me guessing. After the big reveal, though, I did get a little bored.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Annie Gardner, age 19 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I went to see this movie expecting to see something akin to “Taken,” a movie that I viewed as positive, overall. To me, Liam Neeson is a “regular Joe” that most guys can identify with. In “Taken,” he just happened to be the kind of regular Joe whose daddy instincts to protect his daughter, combined with his skills as a secret operative, made for an action-packed movie that had me cheering him on as he took on anything and anyone who stood between him and rescuing his baby girl!

Unfortunately, I was disappointed! Without saying too much, this movie is more of a suspense thriller with about 1/10th the action of “Taken” and a plot twist at the end. To me the movie was just okay, and left me feeling like I had been “taken!” I felt like calling the manager and telling him “If you give me back my money, it will be over, I won’t chase you, I won’t look for you…” Seriously though, if you just want to see a decent suspense movie with a little bit of action, then you might like this one. But, if you are expecting an action packed thriller repeat of “Taken,” then skip this movie and wait for the real “Taken II” to come out.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—RSantos, age 41 (USA)
Neutral—Hands down, “Taken” and “Les Miserables” are the best Liam Neeson movies. By definition then, there are no other Neeson films as great as those two. So don’t go expecting the next “Taken” in the thriller “Unknown.” You will be let down. Das tut mir leid. But that’s not to say “Unknown” is without its finer points. A veritable actor like Liam Neeson can salvage any movie, as I learned with “Seraphim Falls,” and when you add a beautiful fräulein or two, well shiver me timbers, you got a half-decent film. The directing is on par with the genre. Appropriate dialogues are peppered throughout to suspend the action, a roaring car chase is thrown in for good measure, and the climax is nothing short of a one-two punch. The latter being the quality that gives “Unknown” a wishful resemblance to “Taken.” ***SPOILER*** Neeson, when he learned of his past, didn’t have that knee-jerk reaction, that rude awakening that he was something more. His muscle memory didn’t fire up like another excommunicated super spy/agent that’s spawned a trilogy of its own. Hint hint. ***END SPOILER***
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Mega Tron, age 24 (USA)
Neutral—This is a less visually appealing version of “Bourne…” If I were the “Bourne…” director, I would probably be talking with my attorney. The film is entertaining enough to bother borrowing from library, but poor return on money in the theater.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Tyrone, age 41 (USA)
Neutral—Having seen “5 Minutes of Heaven” and “Taken,” I’ve once again come to the realization that Liam Neeson is one of the premiere working actors that are still hanging around. He must be about 60…, and he still looks good, and apparently he is still able to whip a man twice his weight and half his age… Honestly they should be giving him all the Harrison Ford roles, but Hollywood politics will continue to give curmudgeon Harrison Ford the A-movies to ruin, while pinning Neeson to the screen with a continual slew of B-movies…

So anyway… ,this latest by Neeson is a euro flick, with a thin story, some action, and is saved by some fine acting… It’s a good 3 star movie to eat by and forget… No new ground here, just some good acting with a particular editing that is all euro style, which is to say, extended length scenes vs. the hatchet chop blizzard MTV video style, that we, as Americans, are used to seeing that allows us to set our minds on idle and just zone out for 90 min. … see this movie if you are bored and just want some entertainment, but are not looking to be amazed, enlightened, or deeply moved. Expect the rating to alert you to profanity and sensuality and don’t be surprised if you see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Elaine, age 38 (USA)
Negative

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