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 a brief (a rigid 86 minutes) but thrilling defibrillator shock to the moribund crime film genre.



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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

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.