Suspend your disbelief; sit back; relax and enjoy a pretty good thriller. There’s some resemblance to “The Bourne Identity” and even a sprinkling of the much older “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, but there are enough twists and turns to hold your attention.
Liam Neeson succeeded in the well-received “Taken”, and once again plays an apparent victim of circumstances. He is Doctor Martin Harris, a botanist who arrives in Berlin for a conference, accompanied by his somewhat vacuous young blonde wife (January Jones). As they arrive at the famous Adlon hotel he realizes that he left his briefcase at the airport, and off he goes – sans wife – to retrieve the case. He takes a taxi driven by a very unlikely woman Diane Kruger). She’s a luscious young Bosnian exile living in Berlin. Unfortunately the cab is involved in an accident, and the game is afoot. The good doctor winds up in a hospital; the cab driver (who saved him) vanishes; and no one believes that Neeson is indeed Dr. Harris. In fact there is another Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn) at the Adlon, happily intertwined with Mrs. Harris. The second Dr. Harris has impeccable credentials and Neeson has nothing. Even his wife does not know him. In fact, he begins to play Who Am I?
The remainder of the movie is a search for the truth, of course, including finding and enlisting the help of the cab driver. Along the way there are several hair raising car chases and the emergence of two fascinating characters: a former east German Stasi operative and one of Neeson’s colleagues, well played by Frank Langella.
Is Neeson the real Dr. Harris, or is he that other guy? Why doesn’t anyone, including his wife, recognize him? Why is he in Berlin? Is it a dream? Who is the arab prince who pops up at the conference? Where are the police? You have to untangle a nicely constructed web to figure it out.
Neeson is excellent as Dr. Harris, as is the attractive cab driver, Diane Kruger. Three minor roles are acted to perfection by Frank Langella, Bruno Ganz as the old former Stasi agent, and Sebastian Koch as Bressler, a scientist who attempts to help Neeson.
“Unknown” is choreographed nicely by Director Jaaume Collet-Serra.