With his hulking frame and leonine face, I guess it was inevitable that Liam Neeson would morph into a bona fide action star. Maybe the better question was, “What took him so long?” (He’s almost 60.)
In the last two years alone, Neeson has starred in Taken, Clash of the Titans (it was he who uttered the immortal phrase: “Release the Kraken!”), and The A-Team. And now he’s in the Bourne-like Unknown, aka Taken 2: This Time Nobody Knows What the Hell’s Going On.
I prefer the sensitive, gentle giant Neeson of Schindler’s List, Husbands and Wives, and Kinsey. But I won’t go so far as to agree with the critic who compared Neeson’s career trajectory to Nicolas Cage’s. Frankly, Neeson was never that good—and his latest movies aren’t nearly that bad.
In fact, on its own terms, Unknown—about a biochemist (Neeson) who travels to Berlin with his wife (January Jones), konks his head in a car accident, and awakens to find out that his identity has been stolen by a smarmy lookalike (Aidan Quinn)— delivers. You’re looking for a slick, Euro-style thriller, with Berlin car chases, some Hitchcockian paranoia (and two equally Hitchcockian gorgeous blondes; the second is played by Diane Kruger), some scary Euro-thugs with guns, and some scene-stealing fringe work by wily old pros Frank Langella and Bruno Ganz. All there.
Yes, the ending is far-fetched and borderline incomprehensible. (Hint: Sometimes a left-behind briefcase is just a left-behind briefcase.) But hey, they had to end it somehow.