A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Is there a term for the Paradox of Intended Accidental Consequences? That's when a movie shows something that must be an accident, and it turns out to be part of a plan. Since "Unknown" opens with examples of such events, it won't be a spoiler for me to discuss them. I'll bail out before the tricky stuff.
As the movie opens, we meet Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife, Elizabeth (January Jones), who are on a flight to a biotechnology conference in Berlin. I'm thinking all we need to know about biotechnology in a thriller is that it probably involves either genetically altered crops or dangerous plagues. Anyway, at the airport, Dr. Harris lets a guy load his luggage, and as the taxi leaves, we get a big shot of his briefcase, still on the luggage trolley.
So OK. Was this an accident? If I'm carrying a briefcase that contains a cure for world hunger or a formula of mass destruction, I'm not gonna leave it on the curb. Anyway, Dr. Harris and his wife get to the hotel, she starts to check in, he realizes his briefcase was left behind, and without telling her, he grabs another taxi to the airport. He tries to call her, but can't get a signal. Ever had that happen to you in Berlin?
A container falls off the truck in front of them, the taxi swerves and plunges through a bridge rail, Dr. Harris is knocked unconscious, but his life is saved by the quick actions of the driver, Gina (Diane Kruger). He's in a coma for four days. He pulls himself together and races to the hotel, only to find that his wife says she has never seen him before and is happily married to the "real" Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn). Now his ordeal begins: How can he prove his real identity and understand the conspiracy that has taken control of his life?