First-rate cast hampered by Unknown filmmakers


on November 03, 2006 by John P. McCarthy
A worthy cast and an intriguing concept don't get enough support from this film's generic title, passable script and skittish direction; a mostly forgettable crime thriller is the result.

Five men regain consciousness in an industrial warehouse in the desert. They're locked in and, along with the audience, have no idea who they are or how they got there. The communal amnesia is the result of exposure to a chemical agent, and their overall circumstances are related to a kidnapping. Two are multimillionaire hostages; the other three are criminals. Although director Simon Brand -- a music videographer making his feature debut -- is an unknown quantity, his actors are seasoned and have been well cast: Jean Jacket (James Caviezel), Broken Nose (Greg Kinnear), Bound Man (Joe Pantoliaono), Rancher Shirt (Barry Pepper) and Handcuffed Man (Jeremy Sisto). Each performer stays true to his familiar screen persona; for instance, Caviezel has a heroic aura, Kinnear whines, and Joey Pants jabbers incessantly. The gang's ringleader Snakeskin Boots (Peter Stormare) is en route from a train station where the wife (Bridget Moynahan) of one hostage has delivered ransom money. He slips the cops staking out the exchange, and it becomes a beat-the-clock scenario for the men inside the warehouse since the hostages will certainly be killed. Unsure whether they're good or bad or where their loyalties lie, they must figure out how to stay alive. Hazy flashbacks indicate their memories are slowly returning, which would add more to the dynamic if the jittery camerawork and editing allowed the tension to build. First-time screenwriter Matthew Waynee offers a few twists, but the action is also hamstrung by his overly philosophical dialogue.

Unknown arrives under a new Independent Film Channel label established to release two-dozen movies a year into theaters while simultaneously making them available to on-demand cable subscribers of two national systems. The movie's disposable quality parallels the limitations of this new distribution strategy. It would fare better as a conventional made-for-cable project. Distributor: IFC First Take
Cast: James Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano, Barry Pepper, Jeremy Sisto, Bridget Moynahan and Peter Stormare
Director: Simon Brand
Screenwriter: Matthew Waynee
Producers: Darby Parker, Rick Lashbrook, and John S. Schwartz
Genre: Crime thriller
Rating: Not rated
Running time: 90 min.
Release Date: November 3, 2006

Tags: James Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano, Barry Pepper, Jeremy Sisto, Bridget Moynahan, Peter Stormare, Simon Brand, Matthew Waynee, Darby Parker, Rick Lashbrook, John S. Schwartz, Crime thriller, conventional, heroic aura, jittery, kidnapping, communal amnesia, chemical

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