Friday 4 March 2011

"Unknown" (Metro 04/03/11)

Unknown (12A) 113 mins **

So much of this daffy knock-off is, well, known that it may as well go under the title The Bourne Identity Theft. As with 2008’s surprise hit Taken, it sets loping mercenary Liam Neeson to kicking derrière in a major European city: here, Berlin rather than Paris. Neeson’s Martin Harris arrives in the German capital for a biotechnology conference, only to succumb to a coma after a car crash; four days later, he awakens, though his once-loving wife (Mad Men’s January Jones) claims not to know who he is, and indeed another man (Aidan Quinn, morphing into Eamonn Holmes) is going round insisting he’s Dr. Harris. Big Liam starts waving his fists in greenhouses, asserting that Quinn’s imposter “has taken everything from me!”, and déjà vu slowly starts to set in.

Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra made stylish pulp out of 2009’s Orphan, but Unknown abandons all credibility somewhere between the casting of sometime model Diane Kruger as a versatile migrant cab driver and the revelation of a crop conspiracy involving “a new strain of corn”. Neeson frowns earnestly and gives his now-standard impression of a man picking up a paycheque without ever quite getting the joke, while Jones responds to a role for which she’s surely too young by tilting her head cockatiel-style and going glassy-eyed. It’s less xenophobic than Taken, going out of its way to showcase key Berlin locations and actors, but proves terribly silly when it’s not being ploddingly familiar.

Unknown opens nationwide today.

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