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

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

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.