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Directed by Simon Brand.
Written by Matthew Waynee.
Starring Jim Caviezel, Barry Pepper, Greg Kinnear, and Joe Pantoliano.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  12/20/06


The premise of "Unknown" got me into the theater: five guys wake up in an abandoned warehouse in various states of pain, with no idea of who they are or how they got there.  Unfortunately, the rest of "Unknown" doesn't deliver on the initial promise, and then we get an ending that flat-out sucked.

One guy (Jim Caviezel) wakes up first; we don't know his name (or anybody's, at first) with a jean jacket on.  The next guy who wakes up is tied to a chair (Joe Pantoliano, from "The Matrix" and "Memento").  The next, he's just woozy (Barry Pepper); the next, a guy with a broken nose (Greg Kinnear).  The last guy is dangling from a walkway by a pair of handcuffs (Jeremy Sisto), with a bad gunshot wound to the chest.  As the five guys come to their senses, we learn just vague bits about why they are in this warehouse: two of the five guys have been kidnapped, and three of the five are kidnappers who are supposed to be watching the two hostages until their boss (Peter Stormare) returns from a cash collection operation.  The question is, who are the hostages?

Unfortunately, at this point, the film completely goes to shit.  In a classic situation where our main stars have sucked up all of the budget's acting funds, the supporting actors in "Unknown" don't just suck, they REALLY suck; we're talking community-play-bad performances.  How do we figure out who's really a kidnapper?  All five men have these very random flashbacks that conveniently time out to make sure nobody knows who's who until it's too late; somehow, the men were out for two days due to some kind of nitrous oxide poisoning, which "almost" kills them all.  There's a subplot involving the money that is tying up police resources, thanks to the wife (Bridget Moynahan) of one of the hostages.  Once again, Caviezel is just a stiff to watch and he is one of the film's main stars.  The conversations the five men in the warehouse have are meaningless, since we realize early on that there is nothing we can gain from their constant interrogations of each other; the truth will all come out in flashback.  The scenes involving Moynahan all suck; the guy who plays the head cop in charge of the operation is clearly a friend of somebody on the payroll, because he's dogshit.  The end action scene--the men figure out who they are just as the lead bad guy comes back to the warehouse--is awful, and features one of the most off-target cop gunshots I've ever imagined, let alone seen.  The entire production feels ripped off but with faces you recognize, which makes you sit there hoping for the best.

Like I said, the premise of "Unknown" is great, but its execution and story are so poor that I was surprised so many big names signed on.  I'm giving this a Rental, but I can't really think of many movies that aren't better rentals than this.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09