Unknown DVD Review

The unknown usually inspires great curiosity in me.

Alas, this isn’t something that could be said of the film by the same name.

Unknown opens with american scientist, Dr Martin Harris, arriving at Berlin airport with his wife ahead of a bio technology conference he’s scheduled to give a presentation at.

One unfortunate journey with a careless taxi driver later and Harris is trying his luck with a second cab, this time as he heads back to the airport in search of some mislaid luggage.

Harris’ earlier public transport misfortune is swiftly put into perspective when this second taxi takes an unscheduled detour into a river that leaves him in a coma for four days.

When Harris awakes, his memory jiggered from the car accident, he goes back to the hotel he almost checked into in search of his unfeasibly young wife.

Only to discover that the man he thought he was, Dr Martin Harris, already exists.

As now seems de rigueur for nigh on all modern action films, Unknown treads that well trodden path forged by the excellent Bourne trilogy.

Or perhaps more accurately, credit as literary pioneer should be apportioned to Robert Ludlum.

The script for Unknown is adapted from Didier van Cauwelaert’s french novel Out Of My Head, who has clearly taken more than a page or two out of Ludlum’s book for inspiration.

As with Bourne, only sans the originality and wit, amnesia plays a hugely convenient plot device in Unknown.

We learn about Harris’ past as he does; accompanying him as he desperately tries to put the pieces of his fractured mind back together in the face of persistent doubt from everyone he remembers.

As well as escaping the attentions of sinister looking men who seem to be tracking his every move from the shadows.

The parallels with a certain money spinning action franchise don’t end there either.

From the foreign ingénue with an open heart who takes it upon herself to help Harris discover the truth behind his past, to the “naturalistic” car chase scenes through the streets of europe, in taxi cab’s of all things.

You can’t repress the memory that you’ve seen all this before.

Apart from the obvious plagiarism of Unknown’s source material, its execution is also way off the mark compared to the excellent Bourne series.

In the worst traditions of Hollywood films, the script is horribly convenient; where actions that don’t make sense and would never happen in real life keep on occurring.

But, you know, it’s in the script.

The acting, from an impressive looking ensemble of actors, is terribly wooden.

Liam Neeson, who plays Dr Martin Harris, adopts the Sean Connery school of accents for his american brogue that’s come all way from County Antrim.

Only problem being Neeson isn’t Sean Connery.

James Bond may be able to get away with doing whatever he damn well pleases, but Neeson isn’t afforded such luxuries.

Diane Kruger is clichéd in her stereotypical portrayal of a foreign girl in an american film, and you can literally see the dollar signs in Frank Langella’s eyes as he goes through the motions of an entirely predictable cameo; one that does scant justice to recent cinematic performances he’s delivered.

So, no matter how curious you may be, you’re best off leaving Unknown in the dark.

It nearly killed this cat.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

July 2011