Promising movie takes inferior turn

Despite his age, Liam Neeson has recently been cast as many badass action heroes where he beats up villains and delivers justice himself.

He’s been in action movies before, but none like his recent crop. He is slowly evolving into a modern-day Sylvester Stallone.

Three years after his last great performance in the thriller “Taken,” Neeson stars yet again as an action hero in “Unknown.”

Neeson plays protagonist Dr. Martin Harris. In the beginning of the film, Harris and his wife, played by January Jones, arrive in Berlin for a biotechnology summit. When they check into the hotel, however, Harris realizes he forgot some of his luggage at the airport and quickly hails a taxi to retrieve it, without his wife’s knowledge.

Harris’ taxi, driven by Gina, played by Diane Kruger, goes into a river after swerving off of a bridge. Gina breaks free from the car, but Harris is not so lucky, as he falls unconscious after hitting his head on the window. Gina saves Harris as ambulances rush toward the scene of the accident, and flees the scene as paramedics help Harris.

Harris wakes up from the coma a few days later at a local hospital. Wondering where his wife is, he panics, scurries out of the hospital and returns to the hotel, even though he is suffering from memory problems.

When he finds his wife at a reception, he discovers an imposter claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris. When the real Harris asks why she didn’t look for him while he was in the coma, she responds by saying that she has never seen him before.

Harris is outraged and confused as he gets escorted out by authorities. He is left out on the streets and struggles to remember what happened before the accident.

Harris finds Gina again and implores her to help him investigate the mystery of why two Dr. Martin Harrises exist.

He also hires an ex-German spy named Jurgen, played by Bruno Ganz, to get to the bottom of his predicament.

Neeson’s last strong performance came in 2008’s “Taken,” which was received well by critics and viewers.

The same can’t be said for “Unknown.”

Although it was an enjoyable film with some exciting, action-packed scenes, the plot was unclear.

The concept was creative, but it took viewers through a roller coaster of twists that didn’t make sense for story progression.

It was hard to figure out what kind of story director Jaume Collet-Serra was trying to create because the more the plot progressed, the less realistic it became.

Plot twists work in some movies, but not in this one.

After Harris realizes what is going on, the movie transforms completely. Ultimately, the messy plot falls on the shoulders of Collet-Serra and his inexperience.

If it wasn’t for Neeson’s performance, and the performances of some of his fellow cast members, “Unknown” would have flopped.

Luckily for Collet-Serra’s sake, it didn’t, but it could have been so much better.

Viewers with a taste for redundant car chases and violence with a side of great acting may enjoy “Unknown.”

Those who want anything deeper should save their money.

Already, 2011 has seen many bad films released, and “Unknown” is not in that category.

In fact, it might be the best movie of the year so far.

Luckily – for moviegoers’ sakes – there are 12 months in a year.

JACOB TARR

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