User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 269 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 27 out of 269
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  1. Mar 3, 2011
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Bosnian women are bad drivers. They can't avert refrigerators that fall off delivery trucks without their taxi cabs careening off a bridge and into the icy depths of the river. Luckily for the passenger's sake, Gina is strong, every bit a man's equal in an emergency. With no time to waste, the cabbie frees herself from the sinking car and somehow has the presence of mind to save her wayfarer, Dr. Martin Harris, a botanist, who is in Berlin for a biotechnology conference, but at the moment of impact, is in a heap of trouble. As the Spree River diversifies its body into the rapidly-filling cab, Gina, going all Lou Ferrigno on us, bashes in the rear window with a car jack and pulls the doctor out of the reappropriated vehicle, then carries him to the surface despite being, undoubtedly, dazes herself from the crash, and considerably smaller than her hulk-ish fare. The rescue has such an over-the-top quality, it borders on wishful thinking, perhaps, a psychical emanation pouring out of the drowning botanist's mind. Maybe Martin is dead; maybe he never escapes his watery grave, a narrative ploy used to great effect in Herk Harvey's 1962 cult classic "Carnival of Souls", where a young woman emerges from the muddy waters on her own volition without realizing that she's dead. People see Martin, accepting the man as corporeal, just as people saw Mary Henry, with the exception that she's the right woman, whereas he's the wrong man. Like the church organist, could he be dead, as well? The moviegoer doesn't quite know what to think when Martin is deemed unrecognizable by his trophy wife and made to be non-existent with the presence of a replacement, also named Martin Harris, who has the nametag to prove it. Is Martin A in a parallel universe, or quite possibly, an amnesiac sitting in a padded cell at some mental institution, concocting a thriller of his own making? Throughout "Carnival of Souls", Mary is hounded by "The Man", an apparition seen through her eyes alone, and likewise, in "Unknown", an undefined man pursues Martin, making his first appearance in the tube, and the moviegoer can't know for certain if this slow-footed attacker really exists. At the hospital, Martin's stalker violently disposes of his kindly nurse(the doctor is killed off-screen), but maybe the bespectacled killer is a man-made manifestation, maybe "Unknown" is a "Fight Club for Botanists". What are the rules of the film, we ask. It's not until Gina can account for the hitman's tangibility, in which he and another hired man descend on her "quaint" apartment, do we start to rule out the notion that Martin suffers from a malady of the discognitive sort. He's sane, we think. It's not him, after all, it's them; they're responsible for this pell-mell, so in light of Martin's sanity being confirmed through a second pair of eyes, the man at the biotech symposium claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris must certainly be an impostor, right? Yes, but neither is "Martin" the preeminent science, a revelation that arrives later than it ought to, because the medical staff, Gina, and especially Ernst Jurgen, an ex-Stasi agent, who must know a thing or two about stringent interrogations, never ask Martin any questions, relative to his professional or personal life, that would expedite the so-called scientist's progress on the road to self-discovery. Good as the scene between Ganz and Frank Langella may be, it has a gravitas that the comparably lightweight thriller doesn't really deserve, in which the resumed rivalry among the opposing coldwar era communist superpower stalwarts almost comes out of left field. To me, the centerpiece scene should involve your star, but instead of sparring with words, Neeson's big turn isn't an acting one, but instead, is action-based when he goes mano-a-mano with a barely recognizable Aidan Quinn. "I didn't forget everything. I remember how to kill you," Martin A tells Martin B, but in fact, he does forget quite a lot. Although this man and woman aren't husband and wife, they are quite in love, cold-blooded assassins with tender feelings for each other. When our Martin calls the other Martin in the Eisenhower Suite(in the 2003 Didier Van Cauwelaert novel "Out of My Head", it's his home), we see Liz in the background, lounging on the bed, without a second pillow, indicating that she and this new guy are sleeping in different rooms. She's monogamous. The sequence that takes us from the airport to the hotel where the assassins masquerade as a loving couple, to a great extent, is no masquerade, at all. Our nowhere man forgets this. At the museum, the hired man receives the hired woman's kiss because he feels obliged to, believing Liz to be his lawful wedded wife. He's acting; she's not. She says, "I love you." It's not part of the script. Nobody is watching them. One day, when this man fully recovers his memory, he'll realize, in hindsight, that the feeling was mutual. Expand
  2. Mar 26, 2011
    6
    It has a surprising and interesting way of revealing the plot, but it's one of those cases where you say: great idea, if it hasn't been done before. Let's just say it's a clever "update" on Bourne Identity. What is bad about it are the unconvincing attitudes of the characters: spies are highly trained, they don't simply do very dumb things unadvertedly. Anyways, the cliche-types of CIAIt has a surprising and interesting way of revealing the plot, but it's one of those cases where you say: great idea, if it hasn't been done before. Let's just say it's a clever "update" on Bourne Identity. What is bad about it are the unconvincing attitudes of the characters: spies are highly trained, they don't simply do very dumb things unadvertedly. Anyways, the cliche-types of CIA agents are all there and after the first hour it goes down and somewhere we've already been in. Expand
  3. Aug 20, 2011
    6
    The ending is unsatisfying, the pacing is off at points, and there is a lack of excitement to some degree, but Unknown's strong cast, including Liam Neeson, thrilling action, and second half to make up for some of its shortcomings. This movie is recommendable, but only a very small recommendation.
  4. Feb 22, 2011
    4
    Well that was a terrible hybrid of the Bourne Identity, Inception and the Fugitive. Extremely disappointing and highly convoluted. The special effects finishing was poor enough that it made me wonder if they had run out of budget for the right level of post production
  5. Feb 20, 2011
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Enjoyed the movie until the ending. Not as much action for something that is advertised as action packed. Had more then one occasion where moments that should have been surprising were not. Diane Kruger kicked more butt then Neeson. Spoilers:

    How a terrorist can plant a bomb, admit to planting it to a room filled with people, have it explode, then stroll away without a whole country searching for him is crazy. Yes, the guy saved some people's lives, but he still blew up a hotel! The ending was absolutely unrealistic. The writing was trying so hard to be smart and then made such a stupid mistake in the end.
    Expand
  6. Feb 20, 2011
    4
    Man, what a disappointment. You think you're going to see the first awesome movie of the year ands you just come out with wasted potential. At the start of the movie, I was really into it. The opening scenes were very well done and I thought e would finally be in for a great movie. But alas, I was wrong. Once were about a third into the movie, it goes from being an intense mystery/thrillerMan, what a disappointment. You think you're going to see the first awesome movie of the year ands you just come out with wasted potential. At the start of the movie, I was really into it. The opening scenes were very well done and I thought e would finally be in for a great movie. But alas, I was wrong. Once were about a third into the movie, it goes from being an intense mystery/thriller to Michael Bay impossible crap. Seriously there was one scene that just made me shake my head and let me asking "Why did they have to ruin the build up like that?" Then towards the end it goes back to being a good, intense movie(except for the twist, but more on that later). Liam Neeson was the shining point in what was an otherwise really bad movie. He elevates every scene he's in to awesome. I mean come on he's nearly 60 and still kicking ass! What more can you ask for? The rest of the cast is fine, but nothing special. Now, onto the twist. This is the thing that kills the movie. Not only was it lackluster, but I(like many) saw it coming from a mile away. Also, there was no build up to it. They found Liam and basically just told it to him. Then the movie just went from there, almost like it didn't even matter. The only good thing to come from the twist was that it led to a really cool(albeit dark) action scene. Hands down best scene of the movie. So overall, Unknown falls far below expectations, is decently acted, has great action sequences, and a horrible twist. This year just continues to be mediocre. Expand
  7. Oct 2, 2011
    5
    "Unknown" presents a profound problem to its subject, a man whose life was stolen; how can you claim that you yourself is you? The question molds the movie into somewhat a french noir for the moment, but it ends up as a action movie with a decent plot twist. However I'm surprised that Liam Neeson, a man whose almost 60 now, can still be a (tall) badass with a pistol fighting with skills."Unknown" presents a profound problem to its subject, a man whose life was stolen; how can you claim that you yourself is you? The question molds the movie into somewhat a french noir for the moment, but it ends up as a action movie with a decent plot twist. However I'm surprised that Liam Neeson, a man whose almost 60 now, can still be a (tall) badass with a pistol fighting with skills. Meh, he'll get old soon. R) 5.4 Expand
  8. Feb 21, 2011
    5
    This film was decent until the first chase scene then it imploded into the preposterous. The second half was so convoluted that it insulted me. The only insult they did not deliver to the viewer was Liam making love to the young girl. Still, it was better than tv on a Sunday night.
  9. Feb 20, 2011
    6
    Liam Neeson stars as an American doctor in Berlin for a meeting, who's in a splashy accident. That's only the beginning of his troubles. He discovers that his wife doesn't recognize him and his identity has been usurped. Needless to say, paranoia, violence and car chases ensue. While it's acceptably intriguing, nothing about the suspense or action is particularly distinctive. Basically,Liam Neeson stars as an American doctor in Berlin for a meeting, who's in a splashy accident. That's only the beginning of his troubles. He discovers that his wife doesn't recognize him and his identity has been usurped. Needless to say, paranoia, violence and car chases ensue. While it's acceptably intriguing, nothing about the suspense or action is particularly distinctive. Basically, it's a mild imitation of **** Expand
  10. Feb 22, 2011
    6
    I'm giving this movie a pass because it held my attention the entire movie and I enjoyed the Berlin setting. It is not a perfect movie, however. There are too many unbelievable coincidences that will make you roll your eyes in disbelief. The action sequences were filmed very poorly (over-edited so badly you couldn't tell what was going on, especially the man-to-man combats). However,I'm giving this movie a pass because it held my attention the entire movie and I enjoyed the Berlin setting. It is not a perfect movie, however. There are too many unbelievable coincidences that will make you roll your eyes in disbelief. The action sequences were filmed very poorly (over-edited so badly you couldn't tell what was going on, especially the man-to-man combats). However, Liem Neeson was very good and I liked the "twist" when we find out about his confusion over his identification. I actually did not guess what the twist would be and I enjoyed it. I liked "Taken" better than this one, but still liked "Unknown" enough to recommend it. Expand
  11. Mar 11, 2011
    5
    An average movie, with an average plot, average characters, and average acting. Frank Langella shows up halfway through to steal some scenes, but it isn't enough to lift the rest of the film up.

    And Hollywood, stop doing super-slo-mo shots of the characters during car crashes, please. Inception did it best. The end.
  12. Mar 19, 2011
    5
    Nice little action movie. Entertaining. Not memorable. It was ok. It is not Taken. I believe Taken was better, unpretentious. You could wait to rent it.
  13. Mar 23, 2011
    5
    Is snuff real? The guys at Renegade certainly treat it as it is. Do yo ureally want to know? This is some of the most scary stuff out there. Find out at renegade dot cm. You can also find their videos on youtube -- you need to search for renegade snuff movie.
  14. Jan 7, 2012
    6
    I can't help but feeling that this film was made to cash in the success of "Taken". And although there were elements to make it interesting, in isolation this film would seem less significant.
  15. Jun 5, 2011
    6
    An interesting yet intriguing film. Having seen how tremendous Taken turned out to be and how superb Liam Neeson was I had high expectations heading into Unknown. The plot was enticing - Doctor Martin Harris (Neeson) awakes from a coma having been in a car crash only to discover that his wife (January Jones) doesn't recognize him and that another man has assumed his identity. A clever ideaAn interesting yet intriguing film. Having seen how tremendous Taken turned out to be and how superb Liam Neeson was I had high expectations heading into Unknown. The plot was enticing - Doctor Martin Harris (Neeson) awakes from a coma having been in a car crash only to discover that his wife (January Jones) doesn't recognize him and that another man has assumed his identity. A clever idea and one which initially plays out pretty well. Harris on the search to find out exactly who he is and what happened. This builds up the intense and mystery elements within the film. Along the way Diane Krugers character Gina becomes more involved and her performance is fantastic as an illegal immegrant caught up amongst Harris' troubles. Unfortunately the work done to add the mystery and intense side become overshadowed as the film loses its way at times and there are some sequences that just don't quite fit in with the way the film was planning out. The ending for me was rather cheap in what what overall a fairly decent thriller. It made it into yet another conspiracy theory with a secret organization but somewhat confusing given the fact that Neeson's character hadn't shown any signs or had any incline to believe he was an assassin, it was trying to pull a Bourne Identity on the viewer and i'm sure I wasn't the only person left feeling disappointed with the ending. Overall, Unknown is by no means a bad film its an enjoyable and interesting film that starts off promising good things but gradually loses its way and even Liam Neeson at his best at times cannot get away from the disappointment it was a missed oppertunity. Expand
  16. Jun 8, 2011
    6
    The mystery and suspense is there but it takes a backseat to random action. Clues are given randomly and huge gaps in story line are treated with explosions and gun fights to continue the viewers interest. Overall this film is just trying to hard to be TAKEN and the plot just isn't as good.
  17. Jul 2, 2011
    6
    I thought Unknown was a fairly good film and one that definitely retained the atmosphere one would come to expect associated with an action thriller starring Liam Neeson. Although not as engaging as Taken, the film still managed to deliver in most departments. The action and suspense had me entertained to the very end, which did not leave me disappointed. The storyline was relatively solidI thought Unknown was a fairly good film and one that definitely retained the atmosphere one would come to expect associated with an action thriller starring Liam Neeson. Although not as engaging as Taken, the film still managed to deliver in most departments. The action and suspense had me entertained to the very end, which did not leave me disappointed. The storyline was relatively solid and the twists just as much so. This film is yet another positive example of modern action thriller, and in saying so I recommend it to fans of the genre in general. Expand
  18. Jul 23, 2011
    5
    Unknown is an alright film. The story can be interesting and some scens are really cool. Problems with this film is alot of things in the film didnt really make senese at all and there are films that ive seen that are better then this. I would give this film a high rental.
  19. Aug 1, 2011
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This film is yet another story of how a well made trailer can trick you into thinking itâ Expand
  20. Aug 21, 2012
    5
    A poor Bourne rip off, with bad writing, weak plot and generally cheesy acting.

    Some okay action, and mystery keeps the viewers attention. But overall I was just waiting for it to finish.
  21. Aug 22, 2012
    6
    An interesting plot, and a somewhat original delivery in what I expected to be a standard action-thriller. Liam Neeson is as good as ever, but in all honesty I unwound the plot in my head within the first 15 minutes. Without intending to demean intelligence, but if you are a very logical thinker you probably will have a similar experience as I did. Other people may enjoy this movie, ifAn interesting plot, and a somewhat original delivery in what I expected to be a standard action-thriller. Liam Neeson is as good as ever, but in all honesty I unwound the plot in my head within the first 15 minutes. Without intending to demean intelligence, but if you are a very logical thinker you probably will have a similar experience as I did. Other people may enjoy this movie, if only once. Expand
  22. Nov 28, 2012
    6
    Even the eternally awesome Liam Neeson only just saves this pretty pointless film and its eventual disappoint of a twist from complete failure.
  23. Dec 7, 2012
    5
    I really liked this. After Liam Neeson's work in Taken, I was excited for his next action movie...he's become quite the action star. Unknown did not disappoint, even despite some annoying flaws. There are really only 3 things that bothered me about this film: 1) January Jones cannot act. She's as wooden as a board in every scene...same as her role X-Men First Class. 2) Some of the thingsI really liked this. After Liam Neeson's work in Taken, I was excited for his next action movie...he's become quite the action star. Unknown did not disappoint, even despite some annoying flaws. There are really only 3 things that bothered me about this film: 1) January Jones cannot act. She's as wooden as a board in every scene...same as her role X-Men First Class. 2) Some of the things Neeson's character forgets and remembers is silly and "convenient" for my taste. I get that he had memory loss, but I don't like it when films take advantage of that fact to force an interesting plot. 3) The ending was a bit much...if I can forgive a "convenient" story line, the least you can do is give me a strong, original ending. I've seen it before. Other than those things I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The action was great; the locations were great. I liked most of the actors. A pretty solid action thriller...I recommend it! Expand
  24. Jun 11, 2013
    5
    The trailer seemed good. The movie was Ok. I didn't really like the ending. It was predictable and it didn't really make any sense. That's sad as the plot is not that bad( expect the ending)
  25. Apr 27, 2015
    6
    Unknown is the first of three unrelated collaborations between Liam Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra. I have to say that this is the weakest of the three. Unknown draws you in during the first half and really makes you think but its easy for a few points to go by unnoticed that become more important as the movie goes on. I like that Liam Neeson is basically a normal person to start out theUnknown is the first of three unrelated collaborations between Liam Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra. I have to say that this is the weakest of the three. Unknown draws you in during the first half and really makes you think but its easy for a few points to go by unnoticed that become more important as the movie goes on. I like that Liam Neeson is basically a normal person to start out the film so he's easier to get behind and you don't feel like he is invincible. My big problem with Unknown is that there is just too much going on and its easy to get lost. Expand
  26. Jan 22, 2015
    5
    Liam Neeson is Dr. Martin Harris, a man who has a very particular set of memories he has acquired over a very long career in biochemistry. Or is he? After arriving in Berlin with his wife – played by Betty from Mad Men – for a biotechnology conference, he’s involved in a car crash and gets a bonk on the head. After staggering back to the hotel he left his wife in, he finds her at aLiam Neeson is Dr. Martin Harris, a man who has a very particular set of memories he has acquired over a very long career in biochemistry. Or is he? After arriving in Berlin with his wife – played by Betty from Mad Men – for a biotechnology conference, he’s involved in a car crash and gets a bonk on the head. After staggering back to the hotel he left his wife in, he finds her at a drinks reception for the conference with some sciencey types and a man who is not played by Liam Neeson, but yet claims to be Dr. Martin Harris. Two Martin Harrises, buuuhhhh?

    It’s a solid enough premise for what should be a perfectly daft, mediocre thriller. It never quite reaches those heights, although it comes close....Some of the decent supporting cast is underused, notably Betty/January Jones who spends an awful lot of her screen time doing little more than delivering ambiguous looks towards Neeson and others are miscast – stand up Oliver Schneider as a skulking assassin who gives off as much menace as a nettled business studies teacher hunting for a bloody board marker that works in this place.

    Full review at ponderflix on wordpress.
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Metascore
56

Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 38
  2. Negative: 3 out of 38
  1. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Feb 28, 2011
    50
    Not even Neeson, with his strength and his wounded-giant vulnerability, can prevent our interest in Unknown from sliding into contempt.
  2. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Feb 24, 2011
    40
    This is no more (but no less?) than what we have rather oddly come to expect from Neeson in his late period (Taken, The A-Team).
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Feb 21, 2011
    60
    It is the rare conspiracy thriller that ripens as the villains' organization and motives are gradually revealed.