UNKNOWN: Awesome Creeping Rod of Intensity Turns Lethal

by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
UNKNOWN: Awesome Creeping Rod of Intensity Turns Lethal
Hopefully, you won’t respond, "I didn’t understand any of it” following a viewing of “Unknown,” b
ut the dizzying twists do make a post-screening inquiry or two reasonable. Adorned with the beauty of January (“We Are Marshall”) Jones, “Unknown” snips the best from “Bourne Identity,” “Mission Impossible” and the style of directorial icon , Alfred Hitchcock.

Opening with a professors and his wife passing customs in Germany on their way for a scientific symposium,  the scramble begins with a briefcase left in a taxi. Driven by an illegal immigrant, the cab chased by an unknown pursuer plunges off the edge of a bridge into a river. The driver rescues its occupant Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) , then, disappears.  When he comes to four days later in a hospital room, the man only remembers bits and pieces of his identity.

Rushing to the symposium without any ID, he finds his wife of five years on the arm of another and telling security, “I don’t know who….”  Many flicks would follow the easiest scenario in solving the identity theft option. “Unknown” uncovers greater than a coma memory confusion and stolen identity, instead, the foulness of the fiends has many jagged edges cultivating intrigue worthy of Sherlock Holes and Dr. Watson.

Determined to find his real self , a nurse sends him to an old communist security chief from the former East Berlin. And, even as the detective  locates proof of his client entering the county with his wife, the left turns, tweaks and surprises keep on rolling down the autobahn.

Minor characters have mostly revolving door appearances, yet, their right place right time movement solidifies the evolving intricately planned scheme, which has the tenacity to jut your through a ring-around double helix before tautly tossing a few f/x. Unlike “Mission Impossible,” which slips intricacy and lengthy unwinding knot, “Unknown” has an expediency often missing from similar entries in the genre.

The biotech ‘doc’ has more at stake than who’s stolen his lovely wife, especially, when he locates his briefcase at the airport which revs this engine into against all odds racing mode. Avoiding shock and awe pyrotechnics (mostly) the film relies on the synchronicity of people, places and objects for a creeping ram rod intensity that’s most like a grouchy stomach gradually turning lethal.

Go and become immersed in the multiple layers of this action/thriller, where a few moments of coma and recuperation set up deft stealth that has more air time than a Cedar Point thrusting coaster.

***1/2 out of ****

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