dir Jaume Collet-Serra
scr Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell
prd Leonard Goldberg, Andrew Rona, Joel Silver
with Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Bruno Ganz, Frank Langella, Aidan Quinn,Sebastian Koch, Stipe Erceg, Olivier Schneider, Rainer Bock, Mido Hamada, Clint Dyer
release US 18.Feb.11, UK 4.Mar.11
11/Germany StudioCanal 1h53
Who am I really? Kruger and Neeson

jones ganz langella
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Unknown With a Hitchcockian mistaken-identity plot, this film can't help but draw us into its slickly woven web of mystery. Although if we look to closely, each preposterous scene demands us to accept an increasingly wobbly sense of logic.

Martin (Neeson) is a scientist in Berlin with his wife Liz (Jones) for a conference, but he and his taxi driver Gina (Kruger) are involved in an accident that leaves him in a coma for four days. When he wakes up, Liz doesn't know him and insists that another man (Quinn) is actually Martin. Desperate for help, Martin contacts former Stasi agent Jurgen (Ganz), who starts digging into the situation, as well as a trusted colleague (Langella). But ruthless killers (Schneider and Erceg) are on his trail.

At least Collet-Serra maintains a thumping pace, never letting the narrative pause for breath as Martin is pushed from one intense set piece to the next. Since we're held tightly in Martin's perspective, we quickly understand that we can't trust anyone except perhaps Gina, which adds a zing of interest to their interaction, even though nothing really happens. Jones and Ganz play their roles perfectly, leaving us continually questioning their actions. And Langella basically has "pure evil" written across his forehead the moment we first see him.

This freak-out scenario is thoroughly engaging, but even Collet-Serra's ceaseless velocity can't gloss over gaping holes like the script's clunky attempts to deal with the thorny issue of mobile phones, the fact that if someone just Google-imaged Martin the question would be answered, having the US Embassy closed because it's Thanksgiving, and Martin losing his wallet and identification, but still having wads of cash for taxis and such.

But never mind, we're in scary Germany, where scary ex-Communist/ex-Nazis are everywhere. Neeson plays up the paranoia expertly before turning stunt-driving, gun-slinging and whatever else he needs to be to fight off the bad guys. In other words, it's genuinely creepy and thrillingly simplistic at the same time. And when the plot's final secret is revealed, we're hardly surprised to discover that it's pure corn.

cert 12 themes, violence, language, innuendo 23.Feb.11

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Unknown jim panos, syosset, ny: 3/5 "This film uses the initial story line of the book, but totally changes the plot following the taxi crash & the initial confrontation with his wire & his arrest. The wild car chases & unbelievable follow up plot makes it a typical hollywood revision of an interesting book. Liam Neeson's acting almost saves this movie, & the actor playing the ex eastern German KBG type agent is very good in his limited part. The taxi driver is attractive to look at & her acting was fine, but she was miscast as an illegal alien." (11.Sep.11)
© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall