Sunday, 20 March 2011

REVIEW: Unknown

I still remember how to kill you........asshole.

Unknown is a movie that's probably going to get better reviews then it deserves, particularly from older critics longing for the bad films of their youth. Unknown feels like one of the weaker later Hitchcock movies, only with 50 years of dilution to make it extra redundant. And yet because this kind of pot-boiling spy thriller hasn't been around much lately, so it seems all is forgiven. Just because this isn't the genericism of choice for my generation, we preferring CGI mock-ups of Aliens and the such, I guess this must feel positively fresh in comparison. But Unknown is every bit as cliched and hackneyed as something like Doom or Battle: LA. Just in a style that is old-fashioned.

Thankfully the film has put together a decent enough cast, to allow the thing to be engaging in spite of its simplicity and sheer familiarity. Liam Neeson's resurgence as an action star is something that's kind of awesome, and while I don't think that its exactly Neeson's home turf. He delivers much of the expository dialogue awkwardly just as he did in Taken, except here its probably worse and the opening fifteen minutes are sort of painful, particularly because it featured January Jones prominently, who is a graduate of the Angelina Jolie school of acting, in which you give nobody nothing at any point in time. Her icy expression barely breaks, and in a way that's much more suited to subtler fare then Unknown, in which she is needlessly opaque. Things get better though, once Neeson gets into action man mode in which he's surprisingly convincing. Bruno Ganz lends some appreciated thoughtful support as an ex-Stazi ally of Neeson's and Frank Langella is also a welcome presence upon his late arrival. But the thing is just so depressingly predictable, even going so far as to lean its twist on amnesia the worst thriller cliche in the book.

Yet Unknown was a quantifiable success with viewers and critics. Its a fair enough in-flight movie, something you can moderately enjoy and then entirely expel by the time of landing. In that sense it works. But to end this review, I'd like to take older critics aside for a moment. Guys, I get it. I know you hate what we've done to you. All this CGI, all the ADD and all the franchises and sequels. I'm sure you blame us for Spider-Man 3 and Transformers 2. As you should. But you can't make it so every time a film breaks our direct influence, any time a movie doesn't have soulless set-piece action, MTV visuals or 1D characters, you can't just say its great simply because its not that. Unknown is like a bad movie from the 70's sure, but its still a bad movie and y'all can't just ignore that out of nostalgia. Because the egg is on your face when Unknown sits at a comfortable 7.2 on IMDB. Assholes.

Rating: 4/10

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