By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
A blatant attempt to cash in on the success of 2009's Taken, this silly action-mystery once again places Liam Neeson as a butt-kicking American in Europe. Sadly, Unknown lacks the emotional hook that made Taken such a disturbingly enjoyable exercise in vigilante wish-fulfillment. Neeson stars as Dr. Martin Harris who awakens after a car accident to find that no one, including his wife, seems to recognize him. They all insist that he's not the real Martin Harris. Is he mentally broken, or is there something more nefarious afoot? As Neeson's character searches for the answers there are genuine surprises that, ludicrous though they may be, nevertheless keep the film from getting boring.
Sadly, the action is rather uninspired: a car chase features nothing that hasn't been done better before and the fights are filmed too closely. As the crazy plot twists, dead bodies, and underdeveloped characters all keep piling up the film becomes something of a mess (not to mention messily violent). It lacks the focus, drive, and ability to emotionally engage the audience that carried Neeson's last action movie over its rough patches. The man has talent as an actor and as a middle-aged hero; too bad it was squandered here. GRADE: C+
CONTENT OVERVIEW:Unknown is rated PG-13. It has plentiful action violence, some of it surprisingly brutal and bloody. There is some moderate language. A man has flashbacks of making love with his wife, including moaning and implied nudity. A couple next door is heard having sex while a man and woman are trying to talk.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Regardless of what one has done before, one can always decide to do the right thing now.
For a superior international psychological thriller, I recommend The Manchurian Candidate!
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.