Friday, December 09, 2011

Liam Neeson's "Frantic"

Well, we're perilously close to the end of Act Two of Liam Neeson's long, illustrious career. His Schindler's List days are long behind him, but his A-Team-esque days appear to still be ahead. Check out that poster! Can't airbrush the years away forever, man! To be fair, Unknown's a little more serious than The A-Team, but I've probably given away too much of the plot already. SPOILER ALERT. For me, anyway, this is one of those movies that needs to be seen at least twice; partly because of the headache-inducing quick edits, and partly because of the onion-like plot. Also, partly because of the unseamless digital effects, particularly the aftermath of one explosion. Sometimes it pays to either do the real thing, or construct some sort of analog model, but Joel Silver's still tightening belts on budgets these days, his Road House days far behind him, but perhaps not far enough behind for his taste.
And so, let's dance around the plot enough to qualify this as a movie review. We start off much like Frantic started off, except in Germany in this one. Somehow France's sightseeing is more full of promise, but perhaps that's just bigoted ol' me. Seems ordinary enough: a couple checks in to a fancy-shmancy hotel, guy forgets his suitcase, goes back to the airport alone to get it. Then, something happens along the way... and, long story short, Liam suffers a concussion, slips into a four-day coma, and finds his life totally upside down. This film would be totally different in America, of course... he's able to get out of the German hospital to find he's gone from the frying pan to the fire. He seems to have been replaced by Michael Collins co-star Aidan Quinn (younger and even more blue-eyed!!), and his wife no longer recognizes him. But God bless him, Liam's convinced he's not crazy, and by God, we, the audience, feel his pain.
I will confess that trailers in general no longer do it for me, and the trailer for Unknown didn't impress me all that much. But the movie proper had a certain charm for me. The plot probably went off the rails more than I cared to notice, but there was a certain restraint of tone that I appreciated, even if I can't recall too specifically how it manifested itself. And it looked like it was filmed on genuine FILM, damn it. Not that modern, streaky digital video crap that I hate. But I will confess that the film probably thought it was in the same league as The Day of The Jackal. It's not, but it's probably got a better story than Taken.
And, of course, I should probably give a shout out to those scrumptious leading ladies in the film. I should've remembered Diane Kruger from Inglorious Basterds as Gina, the street-wise cabbie/waitress. If it were Mélanie Laurent, I would've made the connection. I think Diane just might have a fine future as Demi Moore's heir apparent... but I would ultimately advise against that. Several reasons, but mostly that you'd have to go through Demi Moore to get there. Demi's not about to give up just yet! As for January Jones, well, you gotta love the name for starters. I think any girl named after a month already has a leg up in my book. She's already got Mad Men to her credit, and she'll probably do well career-wise anyway, but somehow I see a role in her future playing Michelle Bachmann in an HBO movie. Is that too crazy?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan