Unknown (2011) 
Jaume Collet-Serra


UnknownJaume Collet-Serra’s Unknown (2011) is the kind of movie that typifies straightforward PG-13 Hollywood thriller – star-driven, homogenized visuals with a strong primary color scheme (with a dominance of metallic blue, as usual), elaborate set pieces that could be moved around within the film, a pulsating score that vies with the boisterous sound design, with allegros of action separated by adagios of emotion, unapologetic about its generic nature with a plot detailed enough to claim seriousness and sketchy enough to avoid offending anyone and, of course, the solitary cuss word. Liam Neeson, who looks aptly like an ex-secret agent coming out of retirement, with his haggard appearance, wrinkled skin and receding hairline, is an American professor whose identity is stolen during his trip to a bio-conference in Berlin. With the rug of reality pulled off his feet, he must find a way to get back into the original social order with the help of a gorgeous working class sidekick (Diane Kruger), who knows all the seedy localities in the city, and an ex-Stasi officer (Bruno Ganz, also serving as the home star), who believes that Germans are very forgetful about history. Unknown channels wrong-man thrillers such as North by Northwest (1959), as well as Polanski’s Frantic (1988), but strips them of their psychosexual dimension, presenting a work that is solely concerned with mechanics of the genre and craft of the profession (the central car chase is sort of inspired, with its heady interleaving of vertical, horizontal and deep-space movements). The bunch of passages that pique your interest (the ostentatious scene at the museum, the confrontation between Langella and Ganz, both of whose best-known roles are infamous historical characters) are also the ones entirely superfluous.