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Unknown


Pretending to fight the good fight

I return to Liam Neeson. I have reviewed one of his best films, The A-Team, where he plays a soldier called Hannibal. His unusual patriarchal voice is the crux in another set of movies I have reviewed, The Chronicles of Narnia. & for those of you who have seen or heard about The next three days, you know only Liam Neeson’s character made sense.

His latest, though, is a political thriller called Unknown. I dislike political thrillers, because they are not political. They teach nothing & take nothing seriously. The frivolity of killing senators or presidents & the paranoia about the military-industrial complex bore me. Exciting democrats with stories about secret anti-democratic conspiracies is the work of hacks.

The enemy America faces is not the Chinese, Russians, Arabs or Muslims. That would be too obvious… The CIA, NSA or Pentagon? They are the usual suspects, but we find a new danger: Big Agriculture hires an assassin to kill a scientist who wants to give everybody free food forever to cure hunger. He is humbly called a progressive, though messiah might be more accurate…

Whoever thinks this is a likely story must watch it. We are taught science is the defender of the people’s health, whereas capitalism is the exploitation of the people by the wealthy. Enter the Arab sheik, paying disinterestedly for science, risking his life, dodging assassinations, for the sake of mankind. Handsome devil too…

Our assassin, however, becomes so saintly that he persuades a defenseless illegal immigrant girl in Germany to risk her life for his sake. She even kills for him. He keeps his hands rather clean… Her friend, an African immigrant working to save his family from misery or death, he gets killed in the cause as well.

That is not the whole story. Big Agriculture has concocted a scheme involving professional assassins whose entire organization now fights against progress & science. Who will defend science & progress from these reactionaries? Fighting & killing are necessary to defend the people from the rich, but no one is willing to do it.

Saving the people apparently is quite accidental, largely in self-defense. Therefore, preventing the scientist’s assassination & preserving his discovery are accidents. That is the price of innocence. This movie is nothing if not an art experiment. The director’s art is used to brainwash the assassin, turning him into a soldier for the people’s cause.

The conceit of the story is that the assassin suffers an accident which causes him to forget that he is an assassin & believe that he really is who he pretended to be. As it happens, his cover for the mission was a doctor of some kind.

Only for fans of Liam Neeson.