Friday, February 25, 2011

I didn't forget everything. I remember how to kill you, asshole.

 Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Liam Neeson has always been one of my favorite actors. Whether or not the movie is good, he always seems to give 110% and somehow even makes the stupidest or cheesiest lines sound Oscar worthy. And while he still does the occasional drama, when he's not doing the voice of an allegorical Jesus lion he seems to be doing action movie after action movie. Whether it's the A-Team, Next Three Days, Taken or his latest release Unknown, Neeson has reinvented himself as a bit of an action hero, something great for those Darkman fans out there like myself. And while Unknown is not his best action movie, it certainly is entertaining from start to finish.
 Liam Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, a renowned botanist who travels to Berlin for a big biotech summit. He takes his wife Liz (January Jones) along, hoping that when he isn't at conferences or exclusive one on one meetings with some of the other scientists, he can travel with Liz and see some of the sights, including the showcase of one of their favorite artists. They arrive at the hotel on time and everything seems fine, but Martin forgets his briefcase with his identification in it at the airport so he hops in a taxi to go retrieve it. The taxi, driven by an immigrant named Gina (Diane Kruger), gets into an accident and crashes into the river, momentarily stopping Martin's heart and leaving him in a coma for four days.

He wakes up four days later and immediately goes back to the hotel to see if Liz is alright. Security has no idea who he is, and worse yet Liz has no idea who he is and is apparently married to the "real" Dr. Martin Harris. This freaks Martin out and he tries to call a colleague of his, Dr. Cole (Frank Langella) who could help verify his identity, but sadly he does not answer. When things seem to get even more twisted, family photos/website info/identification papers all featuring this other Martin Harris, Martin tries to figure out what's going on and get to the bottom of this whole situation. It probably doesn't help that there are assassins trying to kill him either.
 The story is well written but definitely has some flaws. For one it goes on a bit too long. Taken, a film that will no doubt be compared to this, was only 90 minutes long, while Unknown runs for 113 minutes. Now I'm not a squirmer so long movies don't REALLY bother me, but when you can easily point out scenes you would've cut for time, you do start to get annoyed. On top of that the movie seems to really love twists, but most of those twists happen during the last half an hour of the film and can leave the audience member slightly confused as to what is REALLY going on in the film. There also seems to be an abundance of plot conveniences (situations or conversations that exist only to move the plot) but usually that's typical of an action movie so they don't have to explain everything. All negatives aside, the dialogue is quite well done and Liam does seem to get a lot of awesome one liners.

The acting is a mixed bag, but Liam is so good and is the focus of the whole thing so you tend not to notice some of the more mediocre performances. Diane Kruger is good but can be sometimes really hard to understand. Granted that's probably how it should be, but you do have to lean in a few times to understand her. January Jones does nothing for me, as an actress and in this movie, mostly staring blankly off into the distance. The only time you really see emotion is in the numerous repetitive flashbacks that Martin sees and those are brief cuts. Aidan Quinn, who plays Martin 2, also does nothing the whole movie (or at least until the last 10 minutes) and delivers his lines very monotone. On a positive note, Bruno Ganz, best known for being the Hitler in all the YouTube spoof videos, is fantastic but is a little underused. Same goes for Langella when he does show up later in the movie.
Taken 2 Unknown is not. While it is entertaining from start to finish and there are a few great performances, especially from Liam, the plot gets bogged down with overly long scenes, twists that come a mile a minute and performances from actors who seem to not care that they are there (I'm looking at you Jones). It's worth watching for sure, and you won't leave the theater disappointed, but don't expect it to be the masterpiece that Taken was.


No comments:

Post a Comment