Unknown (2011)

Unknown has no Unknowns

Any film that makes me think about Donald Rumsfeld is just bad to the bone.

As our late great Secretary of Defense once said…famously,

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

The only thing unknown about the horrible film is why Liam Neeson agreed to waste his time making this horrible movie. Rather than getting involved in peripheral issues, like whether or not January Jones was miscast, I want to explain why everything about this movie was known in the first five minutes.  There were no unknowns in Unknown.

The film begins with Liam Neeson, playing a botany professor, arriving at the airport in Berlin with his wife, January Jones.  He is coming to attend a prestigious conference and to meet with his colleagues and, most importantly, to give a paper.  First, he tells passport control that he is going to give a paper, something no self-respecting academic would do.  We are very modest people.  Second, he places his briefcase with his presentation on a luggage cart at the airport, and third, he leaves his briefcase with his presentation on said luggage cart at the airport and gets in a taxi and off he goes.  Now a real academic would never, never, never let anyone else touch his or her case, brief or otherwise, especially if it had a presentation in it.  Also a real academic would have the presentation on a backup CD, on a backup USB port, and on an e-mail sent to one’s account.  We are a very neurotic people.   Fourth, and last, a real academic would have to have a writing and publishing career stretching back twenty or thirty years and everyone in the field would know him or her by sight.

Any smart person would immediately know, therefore, that Liam Neeson was a fake and that he was really someone else, not the person he says he is.  Also I have seen this plot before, but I can’t remember the movie—where the protagonist gets amnesia and thinks he is the person he was supposed to play.  Therefore, the only unknown element in this dreadful two hours is why didn’t the filmmakers do their basic research and, like, talk to a real academic, you know?

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

The Arts Blogger





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