Unknown's major problem is that it's about three movies rolled into one and none of these disparate strands feel particularly satisfying or cohesive. There's a full-throttle action element, a post-Cold War conspiracy thriller and an existential drama as Neeson grapples with the ultimate question, "Who am I?" Unsurprisingly, it's the emotional, touchy-feely stuff that falls woefully short as director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) deliberately keeps Jones's Elizabeth an elusive character to conceal the twists and turns. Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell's script, based on Didier van Cauwelaert's novel Out Of My Head, is a thinly veiled retread of The Bourne Identity, substituting Damon's amnesiac with a mysterious past for Neeson and putting Kruger in Franka Potente's role. There's even a frantic car chase through a European capital to further underline the similarities.
Neeson does all he can to hold the film in place, but he's lumbered with a script that makes far-too obvious steps and, ultimately, revolves around a ludicrous plot about corn. It's perhaps the definition of irony, as Unknown's hokey plot twists can be spotted a mile away. Some inspired casting in minor roles - Bruno Ganz and Frank Langella, in particular - lend an air of class to proceedings, even offering the curious prospect of Oskar Schindler and Adolf Hitler coming face-to-face on the big screen. Ganz turns up mid-way through the movie as a former German spy Jürgen who helps the protagonist piece together his identity, and sends him on his way to unravelling a wider conspiracy. Ganz's showdown with Langella is one of the more engaging moments in a film that consistently fails to build up any tangible tension. And for a thriller, that's criminal.
Those hoping for the bone-crunching, trashy thrills of Neeson's Taken will leave Unknown disappointed. It's admirably reaching for something more, a thinking man's action movie, but the stop-start pacing, stock villains and predictable plot leave it trailing in Jason Bourne's wake.
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