Have you ever woken up and not known where you were or who you were? While ‘yes’ isn’t a common answer, these things have happened. Even more bizarre, though, what if you knew who you were, but no one else did? Coworkers, friends and even your own spouse don’t know you. What would you do?
While we all hope none of these events ever happen to us, this is what happens to Dr. Martin Harris, played by Liam Neeson, when he awakens from a coma. He has vivid memories of his past, yet his wife, Liz, played by January Jones, doesn’t remember him. Is she married to a Dr. Martin Harris? Yes, but the two men are entirely different people. His identity has been stolen… or has it?
Liam Neeson’s character recounts secret e-mails he sent to a scientist as proof of his identity. The other Dr. Harris is able to finish the sentences as he apparently is the Dr. Harris who wrote the emails, leaving Neeson’s character without credibility. To top it all off, the other Dr. Harris, played by Aidan Quinn, has a passport, driver’s license and a family photo with his wife. Neeson’s character has no identification, yet he has a vivid account of being in the family photo. The other doctor is even wearing the same clothes that he remembers wearing.
While nothing makes sense, one thing keeps Harris going: the mission to free his wife. He is convinced that she is being forced to deny knowing him, and if he frees her, his life will go back to normal. With new friends and a book from his father, he begins his search at the start of his crisis: a car crash in Berlin. There is nothing to be found until he receives help from his cab driver, Gina, played by Diane Kruger, and new friend and former Communist spy, Ernst Jurgen, played by Bruno Ganz. With their help some things become clearer, but most things still don’t add up.
Why, for instance, would anyone want to steal his identity? Dr. Martin Harris is a normal man. A normal man, that is, with access to sensitive bimolecular research and parties that controversial dignitaries attend. Things escalate, and Harris becomes even more focused on saving his wife. He fails to add up loose ends and puts himself and others in danger in order to accomplish this goal.
While many movies today that seem to have predictable endings, it’s hard to make a mystery thriller that keeps the audience interested. While it definitely isn’t 100 percent original (it still has the stereotypical car chases, guns and fights), Unknown keeps the questions coming. As credibility to it, the stereotypical scenes are important. Each one culminates to make the ending, an ending which Harris (and the audience) likely won’t see coming.
Good scenery shots and great cinematography add to the movie to make it even better. If you have ever seen a Jason Bourne movie, the filming is very similar. For those who suspect that Unknown and Taken are basically the same, know that they aren’t. While there are some similarities, they aren’t big enough to make Unknown a bore or a copy.
Be warned, Dr. Harris gets followed around a lot, and it takes a little while for the story to tell what really happened. Similar to Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception, Liam Neeson is on a roller coaster ride to the finish. Neeson and the rest of the cast keep the audience turning from one guess to the next. If you’re anything like me, you won’t guess the true ending until the credits role.
To quote Dr. Martin Harris, “Do you know what it feels like to become insane? It’s a war between being told who you are and knowing who you are… Which do you think wins?” The answer you give doesn’t matter, but the events along the way shape the ending. Was Dr. Harris’s identity stolen or is he someone else entirely? You’ll have to watch to find out.