ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Unknown (2011)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring:
Liam Neeson/Harris
Diane Kruger/Gina
Aidan Quinn/Martin
Frank Langella/Rodney
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his hot assed wife (January Jones) land in Berlin for a biotechnology conference. But the plan goes to hell when the former gets in a car crash and wakes up in a hospital bed four days later with a bad case of memory loss. Worse yet; when he finally gets out of dodge; his wife doesn’t recognize him, another man (Aidan Quinn) is smooching her and is posing as him. And did I mention the trained killers that are all up in his ass? I just did. What’s a Neeson to do but get answers and clean that house? OH YEAH!
THE LOWDOWN
Although Liam Neeson has dabbled with action throughout his vast career via badboys like Next of Kin (1989) and Darkman (1990); it’s the 2008 “Neeson-rific” asskicker TAKEN that jacked him to full on, everyday action man. Kind of reminds me of what Mel Gibson was doing in the 90’s with flicks like Payback (1999) Conspiracy Theory (1997) and Ransom (1996). And you know what? I’M ALL FOR IT! After surviving the for hire theatre security guards, who searched my Popcorn for a hidden digital camera before letting me in (am still laughing about that one… nobody watches shaky cam rips with shit sound online anymore, get with the times yo); I gunned in that room and took my seat, ready, willing and able to have a party with UNKNOWN. So did I? Yup!

UNKNOWN gave me EXACTLY what I was expecting and yearning from it: a well oiled thrill ride that took 10 minutes to set its stage to then let her rip for a buck and a half. Now let me make this clear; UNKNOWN wasn’t Hitchcock, it didn’t re-invent the wheel or thread on particularly new grounds (I picked up on lots of Bourne Identity here); but what it did do is set up a potent premise, to then take the familiar and fire it my way with the intent of giving me a groovy celluloid ride and that it did. If it wasn’t Neeson’s relentless M.O. as to getting to the bottom of shit cranking my dial; it was the exciting car chases, the back handing plot turns and the brutal physical get-downs giving it to me good. And as shot by Catalan ace Jaume Collet-Serra; I got an eyeful and then some. Although the script might have been a tad pedestrian; Collet-Serra’s eye behind the camera made sure to coat it up and keep things exciting. The man brought a grittiness and an edge to the proceedings on top of delivering moments of high style (dug that Inception-ish car accident) that hit the spot. Moreover, I loved how he would often go the POV way to put us in the shoes of the protagonist and make us feel what he felt from his end; that visual ploy involved me in this game big time.

I got to say it; Jaume Collet-Serra is quickly becoming a favorite of mine; I adored ORPHAN and now with this one; he’s proved to me that he is not a one trick pony. Keep them coming hermano! I’ll keep watching! The cherries on top of the whip creamed nipples were the fine actors that delivered the goods even when characterization wasn’t playing their favor. January Jones was credible and gorgeous to gawk at as Neeson's squeeze; made sense why Dr. Harris would go through such an ordeal to keep that POA within his grasp. On her end; Diane Kruger had the weakest role to tackle (in terms of how it was written) but she banged it out of the part by conveying layers and using her eyes and body language to subtlety give us more than the obvious. What a strong showcase! As for the gents; it's always swell to witness Aidan Quinn do his thing; dude can take a nothing role and make something out of it; that’s how talented he is. Props! Last but not least; King Neeson... what can I say? He is now a pro at these sorts of role; affable, vulnerable, good hearted yet tough as Norris and believable when it comes time to bitch-slap some evil mofos. Loved him!

Any qualms with this one? A few. In a way it was good that UNKNOWN rolled on fast, that way it was only AFTER the screening that most of the plot conveniences arose in my noggin. Diane Kruger’s character was way too trusting and generous to a total stranger for be to fully buy it; yes suspension of disbelief had to be applied. And am I the only one that guessed 85% of the mystery via one line of dialogue in the trailer alone? Throughout my watch I already had my theory as to what was TRULY going on, although I didn’t have the details, I had the bulk of it right, hence that lessened the impact of the revelations for me. Finally, I am counting the days when Hollywood editors will ease up on the cocaine and stop cutting action scenes or/and hand to hand fights bits with shaky cam shots and close ups. Like really man? IT'S A F*CKING BLUR i.e. A F*CKING blur. I want to SEE the action yo! Damn, I feel like I complain about this every time I see a Hollywood movie…lose the trend, say no to drugs and cut action right already!

With that, as I walked out of the theatre I had a big smile on my face. I was thoroughly entertained by UNKNOWN... simple as that. I know some folks look down on Popcorn roller-coaster ride flicks; me... I embrace them for what they are. Much like a challenging drama, a thought provoking sci fi or a smutty slasher; I need them in my life! And with UNKNOWN, I got it! Gracias!

GORE
Some bruises and light blood here and there; nothing stand out.
T & A
Some rub a dub in the shower between Neeson and his broad; but we didn't see squat.
BOTTOM LINE
UNKNOWN was a freaking blast! A fast paced, gripping and beautifully shot thriller filled with intrigue, fist to cuffs and varied chases. I got "Neesoned” here that’s for damn sure! And I'm a better man for it. Granted the story was déjà vu, suspension of disbelief randomly needed to be applied and I guessed the bulk of the mystery early on; but the important thing is…DID I HAVE A GOOD TIME? The answer to that is F*CK YES! Ya down with forgetting your woes for a while and reveling in some ass kicking Neeson loving!? See UNKNOWN! NOTE: I gotta see Darkman again... it's been a while...
BULL'S EYE
Unknown was originally called "Unknown White Male".

Liam Neeson had an uncredited walk-on in The Delta Force (1986) as a Delta Force member.

Look out for a small role by Frank Langella, playing the same character he's played in the last ten years...hey... GREAT CHARACTER!
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