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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Unknown [Blu-ray]


(Jaume Collet-Serra, 2011)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:53:11.826

Disc Size: 19,784,431,030 bytes

Feature Size: 18,297,378,816 bytes

Video Bitrate: 14.97 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 21st, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3903 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3903 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish, none



Liam Neeson: Unknown Action Hero (4:33)

• Unknown - What is Known? (4:24)

Second disc DVD with the feature and access to a Digital Copy





Description: The star of Taken and The A-Team jumps back into action with brute force! Liam Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, who awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (January Jones) suddenly doesn’t recognize him and another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired and on the run. Aided by an unlikely ally (Diane Kruger), Harris plunges into a deadly mystery forcing him to question his sanity, his identity and just how far he’s willing to go to uncover the truth.


Dr. Martin Harris awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife suddenly doesn't recognize him and... another man has assumed his identity. Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired, and on the run.



The Film:

Director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, House of Wax) handles these driving scenes with aplomb; one face-off between Martin and a black SUV recalls Steven Spielberg’s 1971 road-rage movie Duel.


Then again, if you can suspend (if not forget) your disbelief, Unknown offers an enjoyable thrill ride. Neeson makes for a watchable man on the run, even if some of his techniques, like the just-in-time subway escape, have been done to death. And ducking into a noisy nightclub? In Berlin? You’d be hard-pressed not to wind up in one.

Excerpt from Chris Knight at The National Post located HERE

Liam Neeson’s latter-day renaissance as an unlikely action star should give hope to performers and viewers of a certain age (i.e., over 40) everywhere. While that irrepressible exhibitionist Helen Mirren, born in 1945, continues to inspire legions of AARP members, one discarded garment at a time, Mr. Neeson, a comparative pup born in 1952, is doing much the same, one hard-swinging fist after another.

And so here he is again, racing against time and villainy, this time in “Unknown,” another sleek, preposterously amusing thriller with a single-word title. Like “Taken,” his surprise 2008 hit, this new movie largely banks on the spectacle of Mr. Neeson’s character — here, a botanist, Dr. Martin Harris — pursuing a much younger woman. In “Taken,” the bait was a kidnapped daughter, while in “Unknown” it’s a blank-eyed wife (the suitably cast January Jones). After landing in Berlin and driving to their hotel, the doctor and missus are separated when he realizes that he has left his briefcase at the airport. Hopping in a cab driven by a looker, Gina (Diane Kruger), he soon ends up in a bumper-to-bumper pileup that leads to a dunk in a river and black bags of trouble.

Excerpt from Manohla Dargis at the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Although Unknown is given a fairly modest technical transfer (single-layered, lowish bitrate) on Blu-ray from Warner the image quality appears reasonable.  Detail and contrast are strong - befitting its modern production roots. Skin tones/colors seem true - blue/grey/green is heavy in spots. DoP Flavio Martínez Labiano sneaks in some great shots in the mixes of intense action. Noise is not an issue and the film lacks any dominant textures. This Blu-ray has a consistent feel and doesn't excel in any one area. This Blu-ray produces a watchable image with minor depth but no dismissible flaws.

















Audio :

This thriller has a reasonably potent score - transferred in DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3903 kbps. There is plenty of action with two spectacular automobile sequences.  Composer John Ottman, who has extensive credits, is teamed with award-winning Alexander Rudd to create a powerful score supporting the dynamic moments of Unknown. Depth is notable which can overtake dialogue and multiple deft separations exist. There are subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Only two very short featurettes. The first is Liam Neeson: Unknown Action Hero which has some behind the scenes material with the star and soundbytes for less than 5-minutes and 'Unknown - What is Known?' discussing some of the intricacies of the plot for a similar amount of time. There is also a second disc DVD with the feature and access to a Digital Copy.



In my mind I view features like Taken and Unknown as elevating above their popcorn status... because of Neeson. He's a great actor and adds some class - removing the less-plausible obviousness. I enjoyed this VERY much.
Jaume Collet-Serra does a solid job making a studio film for mass consumption but raising it above the bar. I thought this about his Orphan as well. There is some Jason Bourne in Unknown and the premise is stretched out nicely. Simply put this is entertaining without feeling the need to pull out the microscope. There is also a very solid supporting cast with Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz and Frank Langella. Excluding the overdone fight sequence in the finale and approaching this in the right frame of mind - the Blu-ray should make for an enjoyable night in the Home Theater. I think critics were far to harsh (IMDb users appreciated this much more) - this is a very above-average thriller, in my opinion. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

June 6th, 2011




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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