Step 2: Think The Bourne Identity meets Frantic. The story focuses on Neeson’s Dr. Martin Harris, a scientist who is traveling to Berlin with his lovely wife, Liz (January Jones), to attend an important summit on biotechnology. Once they arrive, a quick succession of events leads to Martin being injured in a car accident. He wakes up four days later from a coma – with no identification on him. He knows who he is, but he can’t seem to prove it to anyone else, including his wife, who she says she doesn’t know him and introduces another man (Aidan Quinn) as her husband, named — wait for it — Dr. Martin Harris. So, in essence, this other guy has taken Martin’s identity, job, wife. 1) WTF? and 2) Is our Martin really crazy? No, he’s not crazy, but something screwy is going on, especially when Martin is suddenly being chased by people intent on killing him. He elicits the help of a beautiful cab driver (Diane Kruger), who saved him in the car accident, and the two try to prove Martin says who he says he is.
Step 3: Find your specialty. Liam Neeson has found a small niche with the tightly packed action thriller. There’s no denying the guy’s a stellar actor, who can elevate any movie he’s in, be it really bad (Satisfaction, anyone?) or meaningful (Schindler’s List). And so in tackling the action genre, Neeson proves he can be pretty freakin’ badass while maintaining a level of integrity. Is it enough to sustain Unknown? I think so, even if things start to seem a little farfetched. Jones plays the same cool blonde she does in the hit show Mad Men, with not much else required of her. It’s really Kruger, of Inglourious Basterds and National Treasure fame, who gets the meatier role as the immigrant cab driver who is reluctantly drawn into Martin’s mess. Another standout is German actor Bruno Ganz, who plays an ex-East Berlin spy just itching to get into the game again when Martin comes to him for help.
Step 4: Yes to car chase, no to story. Director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) also seems to have a handle on the genre, crafting some pretty seat-clutching car chase scenes. I’m a sucker for a good car chase, so if it’s done well, I’m hooked all the way. The film’s problem lies in the script (there’s more than one writer, let’s just say). It’s a great premise that gets more than a little muddle towards the end. Still, the conclusion and reasoning behind the whole thing doesn’t necessarily bother me since the majority of the film is fairly entertaining and engaging. While it may come with baggage, following such a compelling action thriller like Taken, Unknown has its own merits.