Liam Neeson says, this is my beautiful wife, but well, how did I get here in Unknown, a not-quite-successful attempt to recapture that Taken action movie magic.
Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) and his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) travel to Berlin for a scientific conference. But upon leaving the airport, Martin leaves his briefcase (with his passport in it) curbside and, discovering this as he reaches the hotel, has to turn around and get it. So Elizabeth checks in alone, Martin hurries back to the airport, but along the way his taxi is in an accident and careens off a bridge. The car sinks into the water but taxi driver Gina (Diane Kruger) pulls Martin out.
Days later, Martin wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the accident and only a fuzzy memory of the rest of his life. Desperate to find his wife, he eventually makes it to the hotel where they were staying together. He sees her heading into a fancy reception and causes a big kafuffle to barge in — all “I am Dr. Martin Harris.” Unfortunately, Elizabeth does not agree. She calls another “Martin Harris” (Aidan Quinn) over and says he’s her husband.
Hotel security prepares to take Martin Harris #1 to jail but he weasels free and begins the search to find out who he really is, where he was headed during the accident and why the woman he believes is his wife appears to have no memory of him.
Trailers for this movie had some quote about how Unknown is The Bourne Identity plus Taken, or maybe it was The Bourne Identity times Taken. I think it’s more like ½ Bourne plus Taken minus the violence and with a 2/3 strength Neeson. So X = B/2 + (T-VT + 2/3N). Solve for X and you have the approximate action movie value of Unknown. You also have an overly complicated description that Unknown gave me time to think up because while Taken is an unrelenting parade of gruesome deaths and Neeson badassery, Unknown drags a bit in spots. The movie’s end — the “solution” to the Martin Harris puzzle and then what Martin does with that information — is a story-telling leap that a movie taking itself seriously would never make but that works here because the movie has worn you down and also because at this point you’re willing to accept some tomfoolery to keep things moving.
Unknown isn’t as good a movie as Taken. It isn’t even as good as The Bourne Identity and I wasn’t a huge fan of that movie. But it’s a nice little escape into a crazy mystery.
Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sexual content. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell (from the novel Out of My Head by Didier Van Cauwelaert), Unknown is an hour and 49 minutes long and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.