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4.1 out of 5 stars
Unknown
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99 of 99 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2007
This diamond-in-the-rough film is aptly named..."Unknown" is a virtually unknown movie that deserves far more attention than it has thus far received.

A Quick Synopsis: 5 men awaken to find themselves trapped together inside an abandoned warehouse that is sealed shut, with no way out, and absolutely no memory of how they got there. Some of the men are tied up, while others are not. The men soon realize that three of them are kidnappers...and the other two are the kidnapees. But which is which? This movie takes you on a wild thrill ride as the men struggle against the situation, and each other. Who can be trusted? As their memory slowly returns to them, they frantically try to piece together the truth before their time runs out...but all is not what it seems...

Greg Kinnear and James Caviezel turn in admirable performances, and help lead the cast of lesser knowns through this twisted storyline. This movie invokes many deep seated fears of trust and betrayal, while constantly keeping the audience in suspense of the true identities of each character. The only negative thing I might say about this movie was that at times the pacing seemed to be a little off, but other than that it was truly entertaining! The film will lead you down one path until you think you have a pretty good idea of whats going on, and then suddenly pull a quick 180 and completely change everything you thought you knew. It's exciting, and a lot of fun, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.

Bottom line, it's time for "Unknown" to become well-known.
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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 8, 2007
I give this film credit for being original. 5 men wake up in a locked building in the middle of the desert. 1 is tied, 1 is handcuffed and shot, one has a broken nose. After being exposed to a toxic gas, none of the men can remember who they are and why they are there. The whole movie deals with the men trying to get out of the building, remember who they are, and who was the bad guys in this situation. It is an interesting social piece, and it is fun to watch the men unravel as random bits of memory come back to them. The ending has a twist or three to suprise you. A very talented cast of actors do a wonderful job with the movie. This is not quite as good as Memento, but it is a good film to catch.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
This movie has a very startling beginning. Can you imagine waking up in an unfamiliar location one day, feeling like you were hit over the head with a steel pipe, and not know who you are or why you're there? Imagine also being locked up in this place with a few other people who are scattered across the room just as bloodied and beaten up as you are. To me, it doesn't get much more frightening than this, and so you'll find yourself immediately intrigued and thrilled to find out what will happen to these characters next. Of course, after the first hour of the same questions being asked over and over again, you may find yourself a bit bored and just wondering outloud, "let's get to the point already!" Very memorable performance by Greg Kinnear here, with excellent acting from Jim Caviezel and Barry Pepper as well. And when the movie DOES get to the last 15 minutes, you will find yourself even more excited than you were in the first 15 minutes. It does take awhile to get there (even though this film isn't very long), but it is well worth the wait. I think some may find this movie a worthy purchase, and others a memorable rental. I purchased the movie and am happy enough, but had I seen it in theatres I may not have gone out to buy the DVD. But since this movie was only shown in a few theatres (I think 10) across the country, I never had the opportunity.

Definitely check this movie out. It's worth watching for the incredible cast! I'm still surprised this didn't get more recognition with the kind of star-power it had going for it; not to mention it's far better than most of the poor excuses for movies the theatres release lately...
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Amnesia is a tough act to sell. Proven fickle in doctor's offices, unpinnable in medical textbooks, and about as comprehensible as the consciousness it attacks, Memory Loss is a device that can propel a story (see Memento or Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) as much as it can cause it to stall (see 50 First Dates or Paycheck).

When its used as a gimmick, as a way to surgically graft suspense and intrigue into a script that would otherwise have none, it usually fails. But when it is a real part of the character, when it illuminates ideas explored by the entire storyline, it can prove useful.

"Unknown" falls somewhere between the two. The movie goes whole hog with its amnesia: five men wake up, locked in a warehouse, all of them suffering from gaps in the mind, apparantly caused by the leaking of some toxic chemicals. They are beaten, broken, bruised, shot, and -- in two cases -- chained and bound. After a bit of sleuthing, they realize that three of them are kidnappers, and the other two are their victims, but no one has any idea which is which.

To make matters worse, the three kidnappers at the warehouse are only part of a larger group. Through phone calls they learn that the other half of their team is soon to return, ransom money in hand (and -- unknowingly -- cops on their tails). The infrequent jumps to these moments -- at the drop-off point, trailing the bad guys, detectives consoling distraught wives -- are necessary, but they staunch some of the suspense that the central story tries so hard to set up.

The script tries to take things all across the board, using the whole gamut of emotions (and some clever, if not repetitive, dialogue) to show off its idea of the tabula rasa in all men. Without pasts, without memories, who is ANYBODY? What makes a bad guy bad and vice versa? Or are such labels meaningless? It's all too profound.

Okay, it's not TOO profound, although it gets pretty labored there near the end, when realizations start to creep back into the gassed men's heads and they come to terms, in their own ways, with who they used to be, and who they believe they are now. And as these memories tumble back with an ever-increasing rhythm, the story just as quickly crumbles, twists and double-crosses and surprises piling out and on top of each other so rapidly they become mostly pointless.

In spite of the over-eager excess of the story (the director and screenwriter are both relative newbies), the cast -- James Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Bridget Moynahan, Joe Pantoliano, Barry Pepper, Jeremy Sisto, Peter Stormare -- do a bang-up job. This array of excellent performers works hard to smooth out the places where the story wears thin or clumps up with cliche, and they work even better in this ensemble environment. The story may stall on its own flooded plot engine, but the actors and actresses keep pushing it along at a pretty steady clip. Impressive turn-out all around, even if the end product is, well, rather forgettable.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2007
I'm glad I picked this up for a Rental. It is now on my "to buy" list. I thought it was a great movie. The script could have been a bit more tight and thoughtful, but overall pretty good. It has some of my favorite actors in it. It is original, good story. It would be one I would watch again and think about philosophically. Is man or woman essentially good or bad? What makes a man evil?

There is no easy answers in life or in this movie.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2007
This film is great, due to its amazing cast and twisted story line. It left a question in my mind; "Why don't more people know about this movie?" I myself might not have heard about it if it weren't for the fact that I am a big fan of Barry Pepper. I love how this movie is simple in form and seemed very budget-friendly to make. That in itself proves that the work done by screenwriters and actors on "Unknown" is what makes it great. Personally, the experience of watching it was amazing. The filmmakers managed to take a simple story, reverse it to create major confusion among viewers AND the characters themselves, and left me on the edge of my seat. What really got me was the interaction between all of these amazing actors. It is both comedic and tragic at the same time. I wanted them to get through their struggle, but I loved the fact that they were all pointing a finger of blame at eachother and freaking out in the process. This is a WONDERFUL unknown (no pun intended) film!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2008
Five men in a warehouse, snapping out of collective amnesia that hides a series of violent events, sets an intriguing plot for this reasonably good thriller. A few mysterious phone calls clue us and them into the imminent arrival of characters whose motivation can't be good, and who are linked to one or more of the five trapped men ..... therefore a few of them can't be saints either. This intriguing Who's Who of the warehouse moves the plot along and does a good job of maintaining viewer interest.

Comparisons have been made to Memento, but this Unknown's plot is essentially constructed in forward time, rather than an overall backtracking central to Memento. A more apt comparison is Reservoir Dogs, and like that film, which entertained and intrigued, I left this one with the feeling of seeing only 80% of a movie. I would like to have left this experience with more connection to the characters' backstory and motivation. To the extent we get background, it is through a series of perfunctory flashbacks. Sure, the director is trying to simulate glimmers of returning memory experienced by the trapped men, but as the film clocks in at less than 90 minutes, there must have been a time and place to provide some more flesh. The twist at the end could have used a bit more beef and artistry as well. The film resolves, winks at us, and as we say to ourselves 'oh, so THAT's what's happening", the credits roll, and they roll a bit too soon.

For some of the reasons listed above, I developed little sympathy for the characters or their plight. It doesn't help that most of them are foul-mouthed and given to insulting each other at every turn. I'm no prude, but the 'F' word is littered through this screenplay, and inhibits the development of any viewer rapport with these individuals. Joe Pantoliano, whose acerbic presence in Memento carried a certain charm, is here reduced obnoxious whining, and spends most of the film tied to a chair. Jeremy Sisto, who has taken up some interesting projects (Suicide Kings, Paranoia 1.0, and Population 436) spends most of the time hanging from a railing.

Overall this will make a good rental, just don't expect to leave the experience with any sort of lasting connection with the proceedings. Like the skimpy character development in the movie, the DVD is bare-bones, with the movie and ..... let's see, that's it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Unknown (Simon Brand, 2006)

Surprisingly good little not-quite-direct-to-video thriller (in its widest release, it played on six screens in America and eleven in Taiwan) with a cast that makes me wonder why no one wanted to give it a wide release: Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ), Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine), Joe Pantoliano (Memento), Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan), Jeremy Sisto (May), Peter Stormare (Bruiser)... what about this cast doesn't say "makes back its $3.7 million budget on opening weekend", Hollywood?

The plot: five men (Caviezel, Sisto, Kinnear, Pantoliano, and Pepper) wake up in a warehouse. All of them have lost their memories. It's obvious something very, very wrong happened: Pantoliano (forgive me; none of them get names until the very end of the film, and in the credits are referred to by pieces of clothing, so I'll use the actors' names) is tied to a chair, Sisto is handcuffed to a railing. All five are trying to figure out who the good guys and the bad guys are, what happened to their memories, and most importantly, how to get out of this stinkin' warehouse before whoever caused whatever happened shows up again. Meanwhile, in a second storyline, the bad guys, headed up by Stormare, are picking up the ransom money from a kidnapping. (You see where we're going here?) They outfox the cops. Said cops try to figure out how to follow them back to their hideout before it's too late-- now that they have the ransom money, what do they need with the hostage?

While the common "don't any of these guys have wallets?" complaint is probably a valid one, I was willing to suspend disbelief enough to run with it, and I thought it was a fun thrill ride. Matthew Waynee's script is well-paced for this sort of thing, feeding the audience a tidbit of information or two every time it looks like things are going to flag, or sending out a sightseer who completely misses the fact that a bunch of guys are yelling for help two hundred yards or so away. Meanwhile, everyone's trying to figure out who everyone else is, and most of the time, that alone is enough to keep this cracking. As is to be expected from the cast list, the acting is quite good here, certainly on a par with many of the big-budget Hollywood blockbusters I've seen recently. I ask again, Hollywood, what happened with the distribution on this one? *** ½
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2007
Film is full of movies about single amnesiacs caught up in crime and punishment and life-and-death situations, struggling to remember who they are so they can sort out what they're supposed to do. Unknown's novelty is that it sports five amnesiacs locked in a warehouse, with the group discovering that some of them were kidnappers and some of them were kidnappees. The million-dollar question, of course, is who's who.

One guy's tied up (Pantoliano), one guy's been shot and handcuffed from a second-story gangway (Sisto). One guy was conked on the head (Kinnear), one guy's just trying to get by (Pepper). The main character (Caviezel), who wakes up first, discovers a gun, answers the phone and finds out the accomplices are on their way back. But is he working with them or against them? He is plagued by the possibilities, as are the rest. None of them want to feel the criminal.

When Caviezel's character has a gun to someone's head in a fit of anger and frustration, yelling "I'm not a criminal," Pepper bites back, hoping against hope this guy is his best friend, "Stop acting like one."

The film's amnesiac plot, then, becomes a story of redemption. Characters are suspicious of others, yet at the same time try to convince each other that they're the good guys. When none of them want to think they're criminals, it's a statement on criminal behavior in general. With a fresh start, wouldn't most people choose not to be the bad guy?

At the same time as the warehouse crew is trying to sort identities, federal, state and local police are hunting the kidnappers, with a tearful kidnappee's wife a focal point of their sympathies.

Ultimately, a twist at the end shakes up what would have been a traditional wrap-up. My wife didn't mind the sudden identity change in the last five minutes, but I found it disconcerting and unsatisfying.

Imperfect ending or not--you decide--Unknown will appeal to fans of the stars, the thriller genre, and most drama fans.

DVD Extras: Deleted and extended scenes were definitely wise trims. Some procedural moments of police chiefs barking orders appear along with a few scenes about a local cop who runs across the warehouse before the investigators and ends up under fire. Best is a nice compassionate touch, where a detective who has to take $20 for evidence from a mentally challenged janitor digs $20 out of his own wallet to compensate him.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2007
It is a sad day when films as entertaining as this drop off the radar so quickly. Unknown is an independent film of sorts that, as far as I know, has never seen the light in a major theater. However, these aspects are what make the film so great. You haven't been shown the twist in commercials and, like so many smaller films, the low budget forces a tight script and good acting, and this film has that in spades.

Starring Jim Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano, and Barry Pepper this film follows five men locked in a derelict building in the middle of the dessert, with no recollection of who they are or what had happened. All of them are bloody messes, one is handcuffed to a rail, and another is tied up. What happened? Through brief flashbacks and a news paper article on the floor, the men discover that these events revolve around two kidnappings. If there are five men though, three must then be in on the crime. They also discover their amnesia has been caused by a chemical spreading from a tank in the room, probably broken in a struggle. The men argue about who could be innocent, but in the end try to escape their barred prison (building has a high security door and bulletproof glass-windows) as a team. Who is the criminal and who is the innocent? Will they make it out before the rest of the kidnappers come back? Who should we trust? These are all questions you will ask yourself while viewing this film.

Unknown is like a mix of Saw's confined atmosphere with the unknown identity themed movies such as Memento. While the movie has a similar feel, I was completely immersed trying to figure out who to trust. The script also makes you root for certain members of the group that may not be one of the good guys! A fun movie to check out if you want to have a change-of-pace from all the typical shoot-em-ups so common today.
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