Saturday, April 21, 2007

UNKNOWN - taut tricksy thriller

In a week of mediocre to sub-par thrillers, finally we get a taught, tricksy little movie. The premise may not be wholly original but it is compelling and renders up 85 minutes of tight scripting, good acting and genuinely surprising twists up until the last line.

Five guys wake up in sealed up industrial shed. They've all sustained injuries. Three are untied. Two are tied up. They're all suffering from temporary amnesia. The superficial motor of the thriller is the question of which of them are kidnappers and which of them are victims. In whose interests is it to call the police? In whose interests is it to attack the remaining the kidnappers when they come back to the shed? Part of the fun of the piece is seeing the selfish survival instinct take over amid teasing flashbacks as their memories start to return.

The more profound issue is how far our actions are governed by an intrinsic sense of right and wrong or by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Will a man make a different decision depending on whether he thinks he is a kidnapper or a victim?

Like I said, this is a wholly satisfying quick thriller that does exactly what a genre movie should do. Kudos to first time writer and director, Matthew Waynee and Simon Brand, and to the cast, which is a smorgasbord of outstanding character actors. We have Barry Pepper, Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano, Jeremy Sisto and Jim Caviezel as the trapped five; Peter Stormare as the chief goon and Bridget Moynahan as the concerned wife.

UNKNOWN was released in Japan, the USA, Spain, Kuwait and Taiwan in 2006. It opened in the UK last week and opens in Belgium in May, in the Netherlands in June, in France in August and in Germany in October. It is also available on Region 1 DVD.

No comments:

Post a Comment