Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Well it would seem we have a bit of mystery on hands here ladies and gentlemen.  When a character, identified in the credits as Jean Jacket (James Caviezel) hazily awakes in a warehouse, he finds four other guys still knocked out in different states of distress.  Problem is that Jean Jacket can’t remember who the hell he is or where the hell he is, let alone who these other four guys are.  Worse yet, the warehouse is code locked, and how can a man who can’t remember his name remember the code to get out of a joint, if he even knew the code at all.  Of course he could check his wallet, but apparently that’s a piece of male couture that none of these cats choose to adorn themselves with.

One by one they awake.  Bound Man (Joe Pantoliano) tied to a chair, Handcuffed Man (Jeremy Sisto) dangling from a pole, handcuffed with a bullet in his shoulder, Broken Nose (Greg Kinnear) supremely pissed off about, well, having a broken nose… and Rancher Shirt (Barry Pepper) who was knocked out upstairs before coming around.  The mystery deepens as it turns out that two of the men are kidnapped victims, which would make the other three the kidnappers.  Add to that the mysterious phone caller who contacts the crew to let them know that they are on their way with the ransom money and now the race is on to figure out who’s who, and to free themselves before the evil kidnappers, who knows who’s who, show up.

The setup for unknown is a fairly interesting as one as five men, who for some reason don’t have I.D., try to figure out who and where they are.  The execution of said setup was a bit lackluster however.  It doesn’t help that the minute you see five angry dudes in a warehouse you mind immediately wanders to Mr. Pink and them, and comparing

‘Unknown’ to ‘Reservoir Dogs’ puts it two steps behind the curve just to start.  One of the main problems with ‘Unknown’ is that it just simply asks you to suspend a little too much.  The wallet thing is a bit peculiar, but I have forgotten my wallet on occasion.  It is probably just a coincidence that everybody forgot their wallets I suppose.  Our heroes find a newspaper with details of the kidnapped men.  If it was newsworthy, even section 3, page 8 worthy, chances are the paper would have pictures of the accosted dudes.  Methinks that this is an abandoned warehouse by the look of it, broken windows, dust, rust and the like. Then why does it have these canisters of lethal gas just floating around?  And about this lethal gas, which will kill you in small doses, but apparently just makes you lose your memory temporarily in really large doses.  

Then there’s the ‘twist’ at the end.  You know we gotta have a twist.  The twist however only succeeds in throwing everything else into even more confusion, and if you think about it for more than thirty seconds it makes less and less sense, and then your head starts hurt.  Of course I won’t get into it because heaven knows I wouldn’t want to ‘spoil’ it for you but it is somewhat ridiculous, at least in my opinion.  I would guess that the filmmakers had written themselves into a hole and they had to get out of it someway to bring the proceedings to a close, and this was the best way they could do it.

‘Unknown’ is not a terrible film, and it does have some entertainment value, along with a fairly strong cast and decent performances.  It merely suffers from an unfocused script and the weight of invariably being compared to a far better neo-classic in ‘Reservoir Dogs’, which can’t be good for any film.  Ultimately ‘Unknown’ will probably remain as such and suffers mainly from the sin of mediocrity

Note that this movies star two guys who played Jesus, Caviezel in 'Passon of the Christ' and Sisto in 'Jesus'.  A guy who played Satan, Peter Stromare in 'Constantine', a guy who played Judas, Pantoliano in 'The Matrix' A guy who was in the movie 'Dear God' with Kinnear, and a guy played God with Barry Pepper in '3 - the Dale Earnhardt story'.


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