AWFJ Women On Film – “Unknown” – Susan Granger reviews

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Following in the footsteps on “Taken,” Liam Neeson stars in this action-thriller as Dr. Martin Harris, a research scientist, first seen with his beautiful wife Elizabeth (January Jones) arriving in snowy Berlin, prepared to address a global conference on biotechnology. In the confusion of leaving the airport, the briefcase containing his passport and other credentials is left on the luggage cart. Just as he reaches his hotel, he realizes his loss and immediately tries to retrieve it but his taxi is involved in an accident and he’s rescued from the river by the taxi driver Gina (Diane Kruger), a spunky Bosnian

immigrant. Having been in a coma for four days, Martin suffers bouts of amnesia, but he soon comes to realize he’s in a strange city and another man (Aiden Quinn) has assumed his identity, taking his place at his wife’s side. Desperate to unravel the mystery of what happened and aware that he’s being followed by unknown assassins, he contacts Ernst Jurgen (Bruno Ganz), a cynical, old East German secret police officer to help him prove he is who he says he is – or isn’t. Plus, there’s Martin’s bewildered colleague, Professor Bressler (Sebastian Koch), and menacing associate, Rodney Cole (Frank Langella).

At 58, Liam Neeson remains a formidable heroic figure and Diane Kruger (“Inglourious Basterds”) is always compelling to watch. But January Jones’ (Betty Draper in TV’s “Mad Men”) icy demeanor never changes, even when she’s briefly glimpsed in flashback in steamy shower sequences. ,p .

Adapted by Olivier Butcher and Stephen Cornwell from a 2003 French novel by Didier Van Cauwelaert, the screenwriters also owe a debt of gratitude to “Mirage” (1965), starring Gregory Peck, just as Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (“Orphan”) was obviously influenced by the expertise of Alfred Hitchcock – while Flavio Labiano’s photography of the car chases and a rooftop escape is dazzling. Just don’t venture into the intrinsic implausibility and wonder why there is no police presence during the obvious mayhem.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Unknown” is a secretive, suspenseful 7, scoring as a late-winter diversion.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.