Unknown - Online Review

'works hard to keep you in the dark, allowing brief guesses at what might be going on but hinting that, at any moment, someone might rip their face off a la Mission: Impossible'

It is very difficult to get away from comparing Liam Neeson vehicle Unknown with Liam Neeson vehicle Taken, so much so that the header for my notes on this particular offering - following a Neeson-in-an-identity-crisis around Berlin - read, 'Taken'.

That the film might suffer its own identity crisis then is a given. There are vague hints early on (and from the trailer) that we might be dealing somewhere in the espionage field, as Neeson's Dr. Martin Harris starts to suspect he is being followed in a subway, escalating to several more definable acts of subterfuge, culminating in the necessary arrival of ex-Stasi agent Ernst Jürgen (Bruno Ganz) to help him out.

Unknown's main victory then is in the fact that it is both different and individually satisfying enough from Neeson's similar recent work to recommend it. More than that actually, Unknown is a damn good thriller. It works hard to keep you in the dark, allowing brief guesses at what might be going on but hinting that, at any moment, someone might rip their face off à la Mission: Impossible and turn the whole thing on its head. The conclusion and reveal are satisfying, Neeson tearing round any given city attempting to find information will never become boring and the character motivations are ultimately well thought-out.

The problems too come in small batches, easy enough to largely ignore. Harris has a slightly annoying habit of only retaining his amnesia when a crucial plot point is on the end of his tongue, remembering more complicated things like phone numbers whenever required. January Jones, here with a chance to shine outside of Mad Men, is very poor indeed, not helping her cause to claim she's a talent to watch where other failures elsewhere (X-Men: First Class, Justice) could have justifiably been blamed on the material given to her.

These issues though crop up infrequently enough to bypass, Jones marginalised earlier on in favour of the much-more-comfortable-in-these-sort-of-shoes Diane Kruger, who proves a good foil for Neeson. Neeson himself is, as usual, a tomb-like performer, weighting every scene with equal parts heft, threat and clarity. A very accomplished mainstream crowd-pleaser.

Unknown was playing on Lovefilm's Watch Online service, for users with an appropriate subscription.

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'If you manage to survive the unengaging narrative you’ll be met with a twist that unfortunately is not very creative or unexpected. A disappointing performance from Liam Neeson and the underused quality of Diane Kruger results in an unsatisfying film' - Remote Reviews


  1. Was not expecting such a positive review!

    I thought it erred on ridiculous with some very disposable characters. Bruno Ganz was the highlight of the film that wasn't bad, but i found unsatisfying.

    How's Lovefilm's streaming service? Has it improved.

    1. Oh dear, sorry to hear you didn't like it. I had a lot of fun with it I must say, enjoyed it spectacularly more than TAKEN.

      The streaming service does seem to have upped its game recently - the main thing that's made the difference for me is the Xbox app, which makes the viewing experience much more enjoyable than on a laptop and much less cumbersome than plugging my laptop into the telly.

  2. I saw this on TV and I thought it was pretty good with the exception of the very dull January Jones. As much I would like to have sex with her, she's not the kind of woman I would like to spend an entire day with.

    1. Honesty! I like it!

      She's awful in this. She's just got no charisma whatsoever. Does nothing with her part. You wouldn't say she's menacing or innocent or corrupted or... anything really. Just a massive void somewhere on the outer edges of the plot.

  3. This is Dr. Martin Harris. I enjoyed your report on my holiday but do not recognise the man in the photo. I hope you can clear up this confusion.

    1. Bear with me one second whilst I consult Bruno Ganz.