314 – Unknown

A man wakes up in an abandoned warehouse. Groggily getting to his feet, he sees several other men, some laying prone, one hanging from handcuffs, one tied to a chair. The man has no recollection of who he is, how he got there, who the other men are, nothing. No recollection other than that he just woke up.

Unknown is a solid, twisty caper/thriller, about a kidnapping that somehow goes wrong; we pick up the action the same time that our protagonist (or is he?) does, so we have to piece things together with him. And, as it turns out, with the others in the warehouse, each of whom has suffered short-term memory loss. Who is “good,” who is “bad,” and where the heck are they?

The man can’t get out of the warehouse (there are bars on the windows, and the only door to the outside is electronically controlled), and they have limited means with which to defend themselves. But what if some of them are the ones against whom they should be defending? What then?

One thing I liked about this movie, above all else, really, was that whatever did happen, it was neither blindly predictable nor completely implausible. No one trusts anyone, really, but no one completely mistrusts others, either.

Helping matters is the wonderful, flawless cast, including Jim Caviezel (as the initial waker-upper), Barry Pepper, Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano, Jeremy Sisto, Chris Mulkey, and Peter Stormare. Everyone is dead on; there are no hams this time around. Everything just plain feels right, and what’s more, not one character is Good or Bad. Sure, you wake up with Jim Caviezel, and you get the idea he’s Good, but he doesn’t always act Good. If that makes sense.

See, at no point did I feel I comfortably knew what the hey hey was going on. There were feints and double crosses, but not so haphazardly that they lose meaning. We’ve all seen movies like that, movies that are completely wrapped up in being clever and self-important, so they managed to write themselves into a corner and therefore make no freaking sense.

Unknown makes sense all along but still surprises, and that’s saying something. A lot better than you might imagine it being, based on its title.

***

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