IT’S never too late to become a Hollywood action star – just ask Liam Neeson.
The actor has enjoyed critical acclaim for his sensitive performances in worthy historical dramas including Schindler’s List, Michael Collins and Kinsey.
Then in 2008, Pierre Morel cast him against type as an avenging father in Taken and Neeson transformed himself into a big screen bruiser, kicking and punching anyone who stood in his way.
The role of cigar-chewing Colonel Hannibal Smith in the recent remake of The A-Team was a comfortable fit and now Neeson flexes those fifty-something muscles again in Jaume Collet-Serra’s explosive thriller.
Unknown wraps a simple premise in layers of deceit, hoping to convince us that Oliver Cornwell and Stephen Cornwell’s script, adapted from Didier Van Cauwelaert’s novel Out Of My Head, is a tricky conundrum with a delicious sting in the tail.
Dr Martin Harris (Neeson) travels to Berlin with his beautiful wife Elizabeth (January Jones) to attend a biotech conference at the invitation of Professor Bressler (Sebastian Koch).
As they arrive at the hotel, Martin realises that he has left a briefcase containing his passport at the airport and he jumps into a taxi to collect it.
En route, there is a freak accident and Martin slips into a coma, waking four days later in hospital with fractured memories.
Discharging himself from hospital, he races back to the hotel and is delighted to find his wife... except Liz doesn’t recognise him and another man (Aidan Quinn) with the same name is on her arm.
Martin hunts down taxi driver Gina (Diane Kruger), who was involved in the accident, but as an illegal immigrant, she is reluctant to go to the police.
Unknown is an entertaining mystery, punctuated by some terrific action sequences.
Neeson carries off bewilderment with aplomb but there’s scant emotion to the performance and he relies on Kruger and Ganz to elevate the film above standard popcorn fodder.