Monday, 7 March 2011

Review: Unknown

Year: 2011
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Screenplay: Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell
Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones

Synopsis is here:

If films could fight, I'm guessing Unknown would be the blood stained aftermath of Total Recall and Frantic smacking each other for almost two hours. The problem is as much as that as much as I wouldn't mind this idea in my own twisted mind; Unknown is too sanitized for it's own good. Oh the violence is there but while Frantic had a certain sense of despair throughout; and Total Recall's OTT story was matched by it's ambiguity. Unknown slips through those gaps leaving us with quite a mediocre affair. The marketing/casting suggests a follow on to Taken, however, Unknown is no way near as kinetic, nor as fun. It is twice as ludicrous though so there's that.

I had two problems with Taken. The first is the pacing, which is not quick enough to wrap someone up into the film's character, his situation or any of the red herrings put in place. Unknown runs (quite slowly) on rails and it doesn't help that it borrows way too much off Frantic (which I had unfortunately seen quite recently) to not only make its thrills its own but to actually distract you. If you do thrillers well then you know exactly where this film is going...before the characters. Far too often people were introduced into the mix and I had their conclusions planned out way before they said their first line.

The second issue is I kept asking why. Too many times things just didn't add up and the script and the direction do nothing to not only wrap the right elements up (there is a BIG change of heart that really doesn't ring true) but do nothing to make you forget these lapses in logic. Nor does the film patch over them. If your thinking there's enough action to help you brush past such things, your wrong. So when everything builds to it's climax I found myself laughing my backside off.

What I didn't find funny however is the wastefulness of the cast on screen. Everyone on screen aren't bad, but they bring nothing to the material. It's almost as if they are just as dissatisfied with the script as I was. The biggest upset for me was January Jones; an actress that's starting to make waves due to Mad Men, who've I've not seen in any substantial role as of yet. Unknown makes sure that I still have not.

As mentioned before, Unknown reminded me more of Frantic than Taken. However, Frantic was a film placed in the hands of a man who made two men, one woman, a boat and a knife thrilling. Unknown doesn't really care about turning the screw and it really shows.