Unknown

"Very Good"

Unknown Review


The way it plays out is elegantly simple: Five men find themselves in a warehouse unsure of who they are or how they got there. One of the men is tied to a chair. One is handcuffed to a railing and has been shot in the shoulder. One has a broken nose. The remaining two are bruised and bloodied. The warehouse is secured with bulletproof glass and bars. It's in a desert somewhere. There is no hope of escape.

As the men talk memories filter back slowly: The man in the jean jacket (Jim Caviezel, Passion of the Christ) recalls a violent kidnapping, the man with the broken nose (Greg Kinnear) recalls running, the man in the rancher shirt (Barry Pepper) is sure he can only trust one of them. They cannot decide if they should free the bound man (Joe Pantoliano) or help the handcuffed man (Jeremy Sisto) who is barely conscious. These desperate men slowly come to the realization that they are all involved in a kidnapping that went horribly awry. The question is: Who are the kidnappers and who are the kidnapped?

Matthew Waynee's taut and clever script is quite stunning in its setup. Few films outside of the ridiculous Saw series have so deliciously intriguing a start. Where Saw descended into butchery and sadism, Unknown plumbs the psychological depths of the situation. Who can you trust? How quickly can you remember who you really are? And even better, when you do remember, how do you decide if you still want to be that person?

First-timer Simon Brand (a vet of music vids) dabbles in a few technical whiz-bangs -- some fast cutting, a few fast forwards -- but avoids most of the cliché camera swoops and '70s style zooms that have proliferated in crime cinema since Tarantino dropped the Pulp Fiction bomb. Mostly he just lets his fine cast do their best with the dialogue. Caviezel is again excellent, perhaps a bit too stoic but believably confused. Barry Pepper is rugged and smart. Kinnear plays a nice slimeball and Pantoliano is as annoying as ever. The cast is rounded out by a few peripheral characters that appear outside the warehouse (Peter Stormare, that wacky Swede; Bridget Moynahan) but to discuss them would ruin the surprise.

While there are a few absurd and hoary plot devices -- the last minute reveal (now required in any thriller) and the magical bathroom mirror as revealer of truth for every character -- Unknown is fairly straightforward. In a very good way, in fact. Devoid of Tarantino-isms and the shop talk that's become a staple of crime flicks, Waynee's script is square-jawed and pragmatic. This film's brief (a rigid 86 minutes) but thrilling defibrillator shock to the moribund crime film genre.

The DVD includes a few deleted scenes.



Unknown

Facts and Figures

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th February 2011

Box Office USA: $63.7M

Box Office Worldwide: $134.9M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Dark Castle Entertainment, Horticus UK, Studio Babelsberg, Panda Productions Inc., TF1 Films Production, Canal+, StudioCanal

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 106 Rotten: 85

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Simon Brand

Producer: , Darby Parker, John S. Schwartz

Starring: as Dr. Martin Harris, as Gina, as Elizabeth Harris, as Martin B., as Ernst Jürgen, as Rodney Cole, as Professor Leo Bressler, Olivier Schneider as Smith, as Jones, as Herr Strauss, as Prince Shada, as Biko, as Dr. Farge, Eva Löbau as Nurse Gretchen Erfurt, Helen Wiebensohn as Laurel Bressler, Adnan Maral as Turkish Taxi Driver, Merle Wiebensohn as Lily Bressler, Torsten Michaelis as Airport Taxi Driver

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.