You would think it a general rule of thumb not to steal from Liam Neeson, whether it be his daughter or his identity—he will find you and he will kill you.  Europe ain’t getting the message, because Neeson is hunting down its baddies again.

He plays Dr. Martin Harris en route to a biotechnology conference with his wife Liz (January Jones).  After arriving in Berlin, he and his wife take a taxi to their hotel and an important briefcase is left behind.  Martin realizes he’s forgotten it upon arriving at the hotel and decides to grab another cab and head back to retrieve it without so much as a word to his wife.  Bad choice, Doc.  A major car wreck sends Harris’ cab flying into a river and leaving him with a serious head injury.  He wakes up four days later in a hospital without anyone looking for him.  He hurriedly returns to the hotel to reunite with his wife, but there’s a problem: she doesn’t recognize him.  No one knows him.  In fact, there is another man with his wife who claims to be ‘Dr. Martin Harris.’  Is the Doc crazy?  Only the woman who drove his cab (Diane Kruger) and saved his life may be able to help him as he races against his own sanity (and a horde of assassins) to prove his identity.

Here is the short review for those who want a summation before I delve into spoilers: Unknown is a good movie that turns sour—a smart concept and an engaging thriller that takes a turn for Stupidville and never recovers.  Neeson is a commanding lead regurgitating his role from Taken, and the action sequences and mystery thrills deliver most of the time, but none of it helps the dopey turns of the plot.  Readers planning to see this film SHOULD NOT READ ANY FURTHER.

Here’s a film that demands its twists and conclusion to be discussed and examined—not because they’re good, but because they are not good.  If Taken didn’t contain enough similarities to The Bourne Identity, then Unknown makes sure both films are represented in full.  Liam Neeson’s character spends a lot of time chasing loose ends.  After his accident, he has no formal identification, photos, or a cell phone that proves he is himself.  A screenwriter can only conjure up a handful of scenarios to explain the situation.  And in hindering the plot, the screenwriters become desperate to reveal an orchestrated assassination attempt at the middle of everything.  You see, Neeson is an assassin with a severe case of amnesia and when undergoing his head trauma, he wakes from his coma having taken on the identity of his cover ‘Dr. Martin Harris.’  He actually believes he is this fictional person.  The trauma also transforms his personality.  He has now become a warm-blooded humanitarian as opposed to the cold-blooded killer he once was.  His agency sent in a replacement assassin to take over for him, and instead of swiftly killing ‘Harris,’ they try to poison him, capture him, and even go so far as to explain to him his obscure condition.  If that isn’t enough, Neeson’s character returns to the scene at the film’s climax to admit he is an assassin who planted a bomb that could take out an important political figure and he decides to lay waste to his former team members.  Oh, and then he escapes the disaster and takes on a new identity.  I was hoping they would show his face on every news program in the country.  Alas, not to be.

Further developments make the film’s conclusion even more laughable, but I’ll stop here.  Unknown is worth a redbox rental and might as well be a follow-up to Taken, even if it’s not as good.  The big reveal simply makes the plot too large of a grab-bag of holes that can not be explained away in any logical sense.  But, hey, I could watch Neeson, the latest unlikely action star (in his mid-50s!), in this type of role 100 times over before I tired of it.  Take that as you will.

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