Unknown (Brand, 2006)

A feisty little neo-noir with some surprising bite, Unknown unfortunately lacks greatly in the “psychological” department. Five men wake up in an abandoned warehouse and have lost their memory, including who they are and how they got there. Most beaten, some shot, all roused, the men begin to realize that some are kidnappers and others are the hostages, but have now been relegated to a blank slate, even keel as they say. Quick wits pay off, slow learners fall back, but the yelling and cussing never falter, creating a somewhat banal exposition of crime drama aesthetics. Made up of a virtual all-star character actor cast, including Jim Caviezel, Barry Pepper, Joe Pantoliano, Peter Stormare, and Greg Kinnear, Unknown carries it’s creepy premise to the brink, but reigns it in during it’s deceptively simple climax. As a stab at the lost traditions of B-noir, Unknown succeeds as much as it can on such a thin budget and script. It essentially focuses on how identity and flashback can be intermixed to the point of delirium with a grinning ruthlessness hiding underneath, and that’s something Hollywood rarely attempts.

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