Many people had passed "Unknown" off as "Taken 2" long before it ever hit the screen. While Liam Neeson's character does bear many resemblances to his character in "Taken" (please lose the black leather jacket), "Unknown" delivers as a solid thriller on at least a couple of levels.
Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) arrives in Berlin to attend a scientific conference only to leave his briefcase at the airport. On his way back to retrieve it, he is involved in a car accident that nearly kills him and, after being saved by the cab driver (Diane Kruger), wakes up from a coma four days later to find that he doesn't remember much of the accident.
He tracks down his wife (January Jones), but she doesn't remember who he is, and he has been "replaced" by another man who claims to be Martin Harris. Now, Martin, confused, winds up on the streets of Berlin seeking to find out who he is and what has happened to him.
He enlists the help of the cab driver, Gina, and an elderly ex-German secret police officer named Jürgen (Bruno Ganz) to help him figure out what is going on. What he finds out is that something much deeper and more collusive is going on around him.
The film delivers on a couple of levels. The story is very well realized and doesn't leave many loose ends at all. It doesn't try to go too far, but also doesn't leave many holes within the structure.
The plot is unified and moves at a constant pace, keeping the audience entertained and encompassed. Also, it keeps the audience guessing constantly. It has no clue where the film is going or how the situation will be resolved. The twist, though it doesn't have the impact of a Scorsese twist, still throws the story in a tailspin and draws the audience in.
Liam Neeson comes through with a solid performance that, in this reviewer's opinion, carries the film. Neeson, however, doesn't get much help from his supporting cast.
January Jones' portrayal of the wife, Liz, is all over the place, and it didn't come off as realistic or three dimensional. She's just kind of there, and the audience has no clue who she is or what drives her. Frank Langella's character, who later becomes the film's main villain, is quite underscored and hardly makes an impact at all. Kruger is not amazing or terrible but solid like Gina.
Overall, the film comes through in certain areas and falls away in others. It is a solid psychological/conspiracy thriller, but it's nothing too exceptional.
I will say that it is the best movie released so far this year, but that is not saying much, because most studios will not put out any significant films during the months of January and February. It's one of those movies that falls into the category of "rentable."