|Genre(s): Drama / Mystery / Thriller|
|Weinstein Company, IFC Films || R - 85 minutes - $19.95 || January 30, 2007|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-01-28|
Writer(s): Matthew Waynee (written by)
Cast: James Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Bridget Moynahan, Joe Pantoliano, Barry Pepper, Jeremy Sisto, Peter Stormare
Theatrical Release Date: November 3, 2006
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Storyline (from DVD back cover): Five strangers wake up in a locked warehouse with no memory of who they are or how they got there. As secrets are revealed and clues unraveled, they must race against time to figure out who is good and who is evil in order to stay alive.
Unknown is, ironically enough, one of those films no one ever knew about. I first heard about after seeing an advertisement to see it via IFC (Independent Film Channel) On Demand but had no idea going in what it was about. So it’s unfortunate that while this is nothing award worthy, it does deserve honorable mention with the rest of the films in 2006.
A cross between Memento and Reservoir Dogs (a combo even the back cover acknowledges), Unknown is a solid psychological thriller with a cast that hits all the right notes. From the opening, and even with jarred flashbacks, you are never sure who is who until the end, and even then, the filmmakers throw another twist in.
Director Simon Brand and writer Matthew Waynee weave together a great yarn of deception, intrigue and mystery with nice precision. Now, Unknown isn’t a great movie by any means primarily because they cut to the police side of things where the pursuit storyline is much less interesting than what the five individuals are going through locked inside a warehouse in the middle of the desert. Brand, making his feature debut, delivers on an atmosphere of ambiguity while Waynee, in his debut, gives us a unique and absorbing story.
Not to be outdone, the actors also make this work. James Caviezel (Passion of the Christ), Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan) and Greg Kinnear (Auto Focus) provide the backbone of the cast with some help from Joe Pantoliano (Memento), Jeremy Sisto (Thirteen), Bridget Moynahan (Lord of War) and the underutilized Peter Stormare (Birth) who round things out very well.
Unknown isn’t a great film along the lines of the two it’s most compared to, but I think it deserves recognition for making the audience think and be involved with the plot rather than be a drone. It’s not as well polished as Memento nor does it have that Tarantino style and dialogue of Reservoir Dogs, but I’m really interested to see what the writer and director have up their sleeve next.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (8:40) - This set of 9 deleted and extended scenes don't offer much else in terms of story and were excised for good reason. Nothing wrong with the acting, but while the movie could've been a tad longer than it was, I couldn't see anything here that would've made it better. You can play each individually or use the 'Play All' function to see them together.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Unknown is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35 OAR) and looks good. The transfer is at times dark but I presume that was the director’s choice. I didn’t see any noticeable scratches or dirt so this gets a positive rating from me.
The only audio option, Dolby Digital 5.1, is suitable, though nothing great. It does serve its purpose and since this is a 95% dialogue picture, I don’t ask for much.
Despite lacking special features, Unknown is worth at the very least a rental as it features some great performances and a story that will keep you glued to the screen until the end. If you liked Memento or are a fan of the psychological thriller genre, you won’t regret picking this up.