Monday, February 21, 2011

Preposterously Intelligent

I commonly complain about unbelievable plots and often gleefully tear them down in a way that is far more entertaining than actually watching the movie. However, I often toss in a qualifier, that being that the movie lacked a sufficient amount of entertainment to overcome the stupid plot. I'm happy to report that I will not have to say that during this review of Unknown. This has an unbelievable and sometimes flat out dumb plot but it has enough good acting, interesting characters and cool action scenes that I didn't really notice any of that until the movie was over and that's the highest compliment I can pay to a story like this.

If you're going to make a movie that stretches credibility, you should probably make sure you cast one of the world's greatest living actors in the lead role. Apparently, director Jaume Collet-Serra looked into the future, read this and took my advice because he cast Liam Neeson as Dr. Martin Harris, an American botanist who's in Berlin to visit a colleague and attend some international conference about corn which is a botanist version of what Comic-con is to me. He and his wife, Elizabeth (January Jones), checked into a suite in a rather luxurious hotel which made me wonder what the hell kind of money botanists make but he had to hop into a cab and rush back to the airport when he realized he'd forgotten his briefcase. If you've seen the commercials, you know that the cab Harris is in gets into an accident and drives into a river. Luckily, he is saved by Diane Kruger playing the world's hottest cab driver. She flees the scene for what is later revealed as a perfectly logical reason leaving him to be taken to the hospital with no identification. He wakes up two days later into a Hitchcock-inspired Hell in which another man has taken his place and even his own wife doesn't recognize him.

I kept scanning the opening scenes for the clues and plot points I knew would be there and I did spot a few but they didn't help. I've gotten pretty good at figuring surprise endings in the past decade or so when The Sixth Sense made them popular but I have to admit that I didn't figure out this story until they told me. It turns out the accident has affected the memory of Neeson's character and he has forgotten a crucial piece of information about a Saudi prince and a new type of corn that would have cleared this whole situation up for him. As I said, this piece of information really makes the whole movie unbelievable but this time around I didn't care. I found this movie to be very entertaining and if I must ignore plot holes and lack of credibility to do so, so be it.

This and Taken mark a new phase in Liam Neeson's career. I'm not sure how I wound up in a world where I say, "Oh boy, I can't wait for the next Liam Neeson action movie," but I'm here and I'm happy I am, unless that action movie is another A-Team movie in which case I will refer to him a Lame Neeson. You've been warned, Liam.

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