January 31, 2007
A man (Caviezel) wearing a jean jacket wakes up in a locked warehouse to find an unconscious man (Pantoliano) tied to a chair, another unconscious man (Sisto) hanging from an overhead walkway by a handcuffed arm and another man (Kinnear) lying out cold on the ground from a head wound with no idea how he or they got there, no apparent way out and no idea who he is. Welcome to the aptly titled film, Unknown (2006).
The phone rings and the jean jacket man answers it to find out that he’s apparently involved in some sort of kidnapping scheme. Eventually, the other men wake up and argue about whether they should untie the bound man or not and how they are going to get out of this place. They also have another problem when they check on the handcuffed man and find out that he’s been shot and is slowly bleeding to death.
The film cuts to a clearly distraught woman (Moynahan) transporting money to drop location in exchange for her husband all under intense surveillance by the police. The cops screw-up the ransom drop and the criminals with the money head back to the warehouse unaware of what’s transpiring there. We are in the same boat as the characters in the warehouse for the most part as the filmmakers only let us know what they know and so we piece things together along with them. However, we are privy to their fragmented recollections which does shed additional light what might have happened to them.
The five actors trapped in the warehouse all bring a sweaty desperation and a good dose of paranoia to their roles. They are uniformly good and play well off each other as their characters try to figure out who they are and who they can trust. In many respects, the premise of Unknown mixes the ones from Saw (2004) and Reservoir Dogs (1992) with a dash of Memento (2000) for good measure. This is the kind of meaty drama actors love because they get to bounce off each other as their characters argue about what to do. Unknown is a cinematic jigsaw puzzle in the tradition of The Usual Suspects (1995). This is a nicely crafted, tightly-wound thriller with no other aspirations than to tell an entertaining story.
Included are seven deleted and two extended scenes that feature little bits of business that don’t add up to much and were rightly cut.