September 21, 2019

Cameras and Cut ups

“Unknown” leaves viewers in the dark

A movie providing a lot of angles for the viewer to look at is normally a pretty engaging film. “Unknown,” however, manages to only confuse the viewer.

Though there is a lot of attention on the story, it’s fairly confusing. American researcher Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife Liz (January Jones) arrive in Berlin for a research summit. As the two arrive at the hotel, Martin realizes he left his briefcase back at the airport and boards another taxi to retrieve it.

His car ends up in an accident, which lands him in the river – and subsequently a fourday coma. After finally waking, he goes to find his wife. When he discovers his wife doesn’t even know him, and another man has taken his place, Martin begins to realize his life may never have been what he thought and starts questioning everything he knows.

In an effort to keep viewers in suspense, the film provides little detail, but the climax of film does nothing to provide an explanation. Viewers will be as confused at the end of the movie as the beginning. Nothing is really concluded, and the story doesn’t quite make sense. Scenes in the story just work, and we’re not really supposed to question why they work.

This is probably due to the inexperience of novice writers Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell. This is their first notable feature film, and it shows. In effort to adapt the novel, “Out Of My Head” by Didier Van Cauwelaert, they tried to provide viewers with suspense, but forgot suspense eventually needs an explanation.

Robotic acting due to horrible dialogue is also present. Emotions escape the characters, as if everyone is genuinely detached. Even when they show emotion, it’s so over the top that there’s little room to actually believe them. This is also true of taxi driver Gina, played by Diane Kruger. Her performance in “Inglourious Basterds” may have nominated her for six awards, but this performance won’t even come close to doing the same. Each actor desperately tries to bring us into their world but ultimately fail.

The camera work is doing its best to provide a wonderfully set mood. The acting may flounder, but director of photography Flavio Labiano really know his stuff.

“Unknown” could have been a great movie. But filmgoers spend way too much time being confused. The fact is that its story is so filled with plot holes and outlandish turns that we find little solace in the things blowing up on screen.

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