Martin (Neeson) is a scientist in Berlin with his wife Liz (Jones) for a conference, but he and his taxi driver Gina (Kruger) are involved in an accident that leaves him in a coma for four days. When he wakes up, Liz doesn't know him and insists that another man (Quinn) is actually Martin. Desperate for help, Martin contacts former Stasi agent Jurgen (Ganz), who starts digging into the situation, as well as a trusted colleague (Langella). But ruthless killers (Schneider and Erceg) are on his trail.
At least Collet-Serra maintains a thumping pace, never letting the narrative pause for breath as Martin is pushed from one intense set piece to the next.
Since we're held tightly in Martin's perspective, we quickly understand that we can't trust anyone except perhaps Gina, which adds a zing of interest to their interaction, even though nothing really happens. Jones and Ganz play their roles perfectly, leaving us continually questioning their actions. And Langella basically has "pure evil" written across his forehead the moment we first see him.
This freak-out scenario is thoroughly engaging, but even Collet-Serra's ceaseless velocity can't gloss over gaping holes like the script's clunky attempts to deal with the thorny issue of mobile phones, the fact that if someone just Google-imaged Martin the question would be answered, having the US Embassy closed because it's Thanksgiving, and Martin losing his wallet and identification, but still having wads of cash for taxis and such.
But never mind, we're in scary Germany, where scary ex-Communist/ex-Nazis are everywhere. Neeson plays up the paranoia expertly before turning stunt-driving, gun-slinging and whatever else he needs to be to fight off the bad guys. In other words, it's genuinely creepy and thrillingly simplistic at the same time.
And when the plot's final secret is revealed, we're hardly surprised to discover that it's pure corn.
Run time: 113 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th February 2011
Box Office USA: $63.7M
Box Office Worldwide: $134.9M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Dark Castle Entertainment, Horticus UK, Studio Babelsberg, Panda Productions Inc., TF1 Films Production, Canal+, StudioCanal
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 106 Rotten: 85
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Screenwriter: Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell
Starring: Liam Neeson as Dr. Martin Harris, Diane Kruger as Gina, January Jones as Elizabeth Harris, Aidan Quinn as Martin B., Bruno Ganz as Ernst Jürgen, Frank Langella as Rodney Cole, Sebastian Koch as Professor Leo Bressler, Olivier Schneider as Smith, Stipe Erceg as Jones, Rainer Bock as Herr Strauss, Mido Hamada as Prince Shada, Clint Dyer as Biko, Karl Markovics as Dr. Farge, Eva Löbau as Nurse Gretchen Erfurt, Helen Wiebensohn as Laurel Bressler, Adnan Maral as Turkish Taxi Driver, Merle Wiebensohn as Lily Bressler, Torsten Michaelis as Airport Taxi Driver
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