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Posted October 1, 2010
Director Simon Brand and writer Matthew Waynee are relative newcomers to the art of filmmaking and if UNKNOWN is a fair example of their capabilities, they should have promising futures. The script is clever, just obtuse enough to engage thinking on the part of the viewer, and the story is told in a manner that enhances the tension and the credibility. After compatibly bleak credits the story opens in a cement room/rooms where the bodies of five men are strewn about, each either unconscious or possibly dead. The first to rise is Jim Caviezel, battered and without memory of his identity or the situation in which he finds himself. He sees the bodies of four other men and each 'wakes up' gradually - Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano, Barry Pepper, and Jeremy Sisto. Aside form the fact that everyone has lost his memory there is the fact that they are all hurt and trapped inside the room. The isolation and claustrophobia takes its toll and the men each wonder who is a good guy and who is a bad guy as each tries to recall how they arrived in this terrifying situation. Interplaying with the distraught minds of the five prisoners are moments when the film throws us outside the room into the world of either criminals or detectives and a mysterious woman who is handling a bag of money. Some words about a methamphetamine lab are uttered, some telephone calls are made to the single line inside 'the room', and the identities of each of the characters takes shape as each of the imprisoned men gains bits of memory. The five trapped men form a strange bond, ready for the return of whoever it is that placed them there, and it is only after the confrontation of the captors with the captives occurs that all of the pieces of the bizarre story are sorted out. The viewer then needs to do some mental backing up to completely understand the story. The cast is very strong - not only the five solid actors within the room, but also those 'outside', including Bridget Moynahan, Peter Stormare, Chris Mulkey, Clayne Crawford, Kevin Chapman, Mark Boone, Wilmer Calderon, and David Selby. But it is the choices made by director Simon Brand that make the story unique (given it has the flavor of 'Memento', Camus' 'No Exit', 'Reservoir Dogs', 'The Usual Suspects' and others). This a fine examination of human behavior when the aspect of loss of memory impacts how 'strangers' interact to survive. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.