‘Taken’ + ‘Memento’ = Facepalm
So, we went to Berlin for the first time recently and fell kind of head over heels for the place. The people are great, the nightlife is peerless, and we more or less had to be forcibly dragged back on to our plane home. Why is this relevant, might you ask? Have The Playlist used their new digs as an excuse to turn into a travel blog? No, it’s just that the new Liam Neeson thriller “Unknown” is set there, and from the looks of the trailer that debuted over at Yahoo last night, occasional reminders of the city might be the only reason to check it out.
Neeson plays an American tourist on holiday with his wife (“Mad Men” star January Jones) in Germany who’s involved in a car accident. When he wakes up, he discovers that his wife has no memory of him and that Aidan Quinn, who’s not even trying to pretend he’s not evil in his brief appearances in the trailer, has taken over his identity. Man, we hate it when Aidan Quinn takes over our identity. Neeson manages to track down his cab driver (Diane Kruger), which kicks off a series of explosions, car wrecks and, naturally, anonymous European henchman having their asses handed to them by a tall Irishman.
On the plus side, the supporting cast is something of a who’s who of German cinema in the last few years; as well as Kruger, Bruno Ganz (“Downfall“), Karl Markovics (“The Counterfeiters“) and Sebastian Koch (“The Lives of Others“) all cropping up briefly, as well as Frank Langella, seemingly reprising his role from “The Box,” albeit without the Two-Face make-up. We suppose it looks a little better than that movie where Neeson tried to convince Christina Ricci she was dead so he could have sex with her. On the negative side, it looks ridiculous — like “Flightplan,” but, not on a plane.
It’s clearly an attempt to cash in on the surprise success of “Taken” at the start of last year, but the muddled clip doesn’t seem to hold the same universal appeal as the logline for that one. Maybe general audiences simply don’t ask for more from a Friday night trip to the pictures than the voice of Aslan whaling on people with funny accents. Jaume Collet-Serra, who was at least behind the rapidly-becoming-a-cult-classic “Orphan,” is at the helm, and the movie just got pushed back a month to February 18th, 2011 where, thanks to the presence of “Big Momma’s House 3,” it at least won’t be the worst-reviewed movie on release.