Watching â€œUnknownâ€ is a little like riding the rollercoaster at the county fair. There are a few chills,Â thrills and unexpected bumps along the way, but afterward, when you step from the platform, you canâ€™t help but feel a little let down, wishing there had been something more.
Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) has just arrived with his wife, Liz (January Jones), in Berlin for a biochemistry summit. After an accident that put him in a coma for a few days, he comes to find out that he has been replaced â€“ his identity completely erased from the world â€“ by another man. Not even his wife recognizes him. Dr. Harris must find out why his identity has been stolen in order to prove who he is. With limited money and no identification, he gains the help of a young woman named Gina (Diane Kruger), and a former East German secret police officer, Ernst Jurgen (Bruno Ganz, â€œWings of Desireâ€).
The cinematography in â€œUnknownâ€ truly adds to the audienceâ€™s experience, highlighting Dr. Harrisâ€™ confusion and feelings of frustration. The frequently changing shots intensify the constant pressure and stress Dr. Harris is under. His faded memory of his previous life is expressed through a series of layered images and scenes making the audience feel as frustrated and confused as Dr. Harris.
As with any action film, â€œUnknownâ€ is rich in chase scenes and intense life-or-death drama. Dr. Harris and Gina escape within an inch of their life many times. And, of course, there are explosions, though some of them do seem a little too spontaneous.
The acting is good enough; the problem with â€œUnknownâ€ lies in the script, which does little more than carry us from one action scene to the next. Although â€œUnknownâ€ is packed full of suspense and mystery, there are many spots in the film where the story feels blank or empty. It is tiring to watch a man wander around a city for what seems like 10 or 15 minutes during the film. The dialogue has little depth or interest. We spend much of our time watching Dr. Harris figure out his next move or just barely wiggle out of some certain-death scenario.
But, of course, the mystery slowly unfolds and Dr. Harris is finally confronted with the truth. Although surprising, when we finally do find out the truth, we are a little let down. Like the county fair rollercoaster ride, the journey to the climax just wasnâ€™t that great.