Unknown Movie Review (2011)
An average story with some limited potential, but ruined by Liam Neeson’s wooden acting, and ruined even more by some ridiculous script and plot elements. The lack of common sense displayed by any of the characters is even worse than in Taken, if such a thing is possible. I don’t want to totally spoil the plot in case you still decide to watch this film, but let me give you three examples:
1. Neeson’s character fights a man who attacks him, and eventually the man is overcome. Just before the assailant dies, Neeson bangs him against the floor demanding to know who he is, and who sent him. The man dies, saying nothing. Now, any normal person would go through the dead man’s pockets for ID or for any other clue as to his purpose or identity. Equally, given his lack of cash at the time, you would expect Neeson simply to grab the dead man’s wallet. You would also expect him to take the man’s gun – after all his equally vicious partner is still armed and at large. What does Neeson’s character do? Grab a notebook (essential to the plot, but he didn’t know it at the time), then run away. Unknown 1 – Common Sense 0
2. Neeson and his female companion escape in a borrowed Taxi – a Mercedes saloon. The second armed assailant follows in a much larger and faster Mercedes 4×4. Ignore the ridiculous sound effects as Neeson repeatedly changes gear (note to sound effects: Mercedes saloon taxis do not have gearchange mechanisms that sound like Nascar sequential boxes). It is clear that the assailant’s car is quicker and heavier, yet Neeson continues to try to outdrag him and barge him off the road. At no point does he do the obvious thing – let the man get slightly ahead (so Neeson’s car is in his blind spot), then brake hard and take the assailant by surprise by turning left / right / U-turning, not even when the assailant is on the opposite side of the road, or behind a set of pillars where he couldn’t react quickly even if he spotted the braking manoeuvre. Unknown 2 – Common Sense 0
3. Neeson’s character retrieves a briefcase that contains documents vital to the plot, and to his identity. He has spent most of the film looking for this information, yet having found it what does he do? Set about proving his case? Call the investigator working for him to let him know? Go to the Authorities? Put the passport safely in his inside pocket, and lock the rest of the documents in his briefcase then put it in a safe place? No. In spite of being chased, shot at, and set up by various people, and in spite of still having no idea who the good guys and bad guys might be, or how many of them there are, or how to identify them, he sits at a table in a café, alternately waving his passport around or gazing at it for a few minutes, with the briefcase open and in full view on a chair beside him, inviting any passing bad guy to take and destroy the passport and the rest of the documents and other evidence. Unknown 3 – Common Sense 0
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The whole script is littered with scenes where any sensible person would have done almost entirely the opposite of what Neeson’s character does. I’m not talking about suspension of disbelief for the basic plot (which I’m broadly quite happy with – after all, it’s fiction for the purpose of entertainment), but characters who just do stupid things. What’s more annoying is that the plot would have worked just as well if the characters had done sensible things – the stupid actions weren’t vital to any of the key plot elements.
A waste of an afternoon. If it had been on TV I’d have turned it off and done the washing up instead.