Published Feb 17, 2011If The Bourne Identity jumped back to the '90s, developed a sense of humour, levelled out its direction and kept its tongue firmly in cheek, it might look and feel something like Unknown, an entertaining, but ultimately forgettable play on B-movie trash with plot twists and red herrings aplenty.
The plotting and format are almost identical, save the opening sequence when American doctor Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) plunges off a bridge in the back of a frazzled Gina's (Diane Kruger) cab, only to awake four days later from a coma. When he emerges from the hospital to find wife Liz (January Jones) with another Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn), the identity chaos ensues, with Kruger playing the reluctant local with cash problems to Neeson's wronged man with a Cassandra complex.
What's important to know about Orphan director Jaume Collet-Serra's glossy big budget actioner is that despite political plotting involving the potential assassination of a Middle Eastern Prince concerned with the world's food supply, the tone and direction are pure bubblegum pap. It actually plays with the audience expectation of preachy didactics to throw us off before going full-tilt, bat-shit absurd in the final act with a wholly entertaining, albeit laughable, conclusion.
The only problem with this is an overall reluctance to commit fully to propulsion over logic. When Neeson is on the run, smashing up cars in the streets of Berlin, speeding down sidewalks and hiding out in darkened dance clubs the film hits its groove. But when it steps back to explain what's going on with some seriousness things tend to drag unnecessarily.
Fortunately, the veiled hints and deliberately awkward "intentional" flaws disappear about halfway through, leaving the latter segments to speed through twist after twist while bombs countdown, villains speed around with machineguns and fistfights decimate humble apartments.
Forgoing analysis, this unpretentious diversion may very well be the popcorn entertainment we've been missing for the last decade since things got overly political on the big screen. (Warner)