Direction: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger
Rating: ** 1/2
The basic plot of this mistaken-identity thriller is hardly original. Adapted from a little-known French page-turner, Unknown borrows plot elements from the films of Alfred Hitchcock, besides the amnesia-addled adventures of the Bourne trilogy.
Infuriatingly, director Collet-Serra (Orphan) concentrates more on building up a foreboding atmosphere instead of working on narrative clarity. The relentlessly twisty storyline leaves us stone cold.
Accompanied by his much younger wife (January Jones, in icy blonde Hitchcockian mode), an American bio-technologist (Neeson) arrives in Berlin to participate in a science seminar.
Involved in a horrific taxi accident en route to the airport to retrieve his briefcase, the befuddled protagonist wakes up after a four-day coma to discover that someone else has appropriated his identity. Worse, his wife refuses to recognise him and a couple of assassins are on his trail.
So far, so eerie. With fantasy and reality now blurred, the wronged man attempts to piece together the puzzle and keep his new relationship with the resourceful Bosnian cab-driver (Kruger) afloat.
Soon enough, the secret of his real identity is revealed. Rather ingeniously, it is linked to research involving a food substitute that could help eradicate world hunger. Ahem!
The occasional colour-saturated flashbacks are an irritant. Redeemed by some spectacular car chases and brutal slugfests, the film is engaging in spurts.
Our interest is also aroused by the skillful performances of Liam Neeson and veteran Swiss star Bruno Ganz in the role of a former East German secret service agent.
Ultimately, Unknown is neither bad enough to completely dismiss nor good enough to wholly recommend.