Saturday, July 23, 2011

Angry Men with Raspy Voices: Unknown and The Next Three Days

Unknown and The Next Three Days. They both feature guys who want to save something. They spend a lot of time driving around angrily in cars. They both have raspy, serious voices. Oh, and incidentally, they both feature the only 59 year old I find really attractive: the one and only, Liam 'I am probably God' Neeson. One has him as the lead, the other has him in a single scene. But he's awesome in both of them. Obviously. Because whether he likes it or not, he is now my adopted dad. And I'm awesome, which means he is too. Obviously.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the ultimate battle between the Neeson's, the angry men, the raspy voices...

The story:

Unknown is about a guy, Dr. Martin Harris, who has a 'ravishing' wife, Elizabeth. He goes to Berlin for some summit, only to wind up in a car accident. When he wakes up, no one seems to know who he is. So, ultimately, this is a story about a guy in his 50's (though I wouldn't say old Liam looks a day over 49) trying to find himself - finding his true worth in this lovely world we live in. Okay, so it's not a heart warming story. It's more an opportunity for Liam to show off his skills that he acquired in Taken. And there ain't nothing wrong with that, now is there? (here is the part where you say 'no' because Liam Neeson is fucking awesome)

The Next Three Days is a remake of a French flick called Anything for Her, which ironically stars Diane Kruger who just so happens to be in Unknown. Our hero is John Brennan, who is now a single dad as his wife, Lara, was accused of murder and was sent to jail. John can't take it anymore and neither can Lara, so John, convinced his wife isn't a murderer, decides that he is going to get his wife out of that jail. No, it's not as easy as it sounds. John enlists the help of Liam 'I am probably God' Neeson, and he surprises his wife one day by rocking up and dragging her out into the open. Yeah, I think a surprise birthday party would just be enough for me.

The winner: While I think Unknown had an intriguing premise, if I were to choose between the two based on story alone, I'd have to go with The Next Three Days. It's as predictable as hell, but it does make for some intense stuff.

The director:

Unknown's director is Jaume Collet-Serra, a.k.a the guy who made Orphan. Which is the movie that everyone else hated, but I really liked. He's also done the remake of House of Wax and a sequel to some soccer movie called Goal II: Living the Dream. I think it's safe to say that Unknown is his best work - and he makes this film look pretty good.

The Next Three Days has Paul Haggis behind the camera. He's written quite a few movies, including Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Million Dollar Baby. His feature directorial efforts go as far as Crash (a.k.a the most hated Best Picture winner ever) and In the Valley of Elah. Definitely a bit more up-scale than Jaume Collet-Serra, but this is definitely his worst work (directorially speaking).

The winner: I gotta say, I'd pick Haggis anyday. So let's just say we base this on their body of work...yeah, Haggis wins.

The angry man with a raspy voice:

Unknown's headline star is Liam Neeson. You know, the guy that has played Oskar Schindler and Zeus, killed a whole lot of people to get to his daughter, gave Aslan a nice voice, led the A-Team and trained Batman. Yes, you're fucked. Not to mention, this guys voice is exactly what I imagine chocolate ice cream and velvet sound like. Even if he was supposed to be American in this movie, the Irish accent that came through was always pleasant to listen to.

The Next Three Days is led by Russell Crowe. The dude that has been in such works as L.A. Confidential, Robin Hood, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Master and Commander and the highly revered Aussie soap series Neighbours (hahahaha). Oh, and he is from New Zealand. Where I happen to come from. And I am awesome. So he must be too. But his voice...yeah, that wasn't chocolate ice cream and velvet at all.

The winner: I should go with by fellow Kiwi, but come on, this is Liam 'I am probably God' Neeson we're talking about. He had a nicer voice...

The women folk:

Unknown gives Liam Neeson the pleasure of starring opposite Diane Kruger and January Jones. Diane, for one thing, is really good in this movie. I thought she had an Oscar-worthy turn in Inglourious Basterds, and here she proves that she is still awesome. How the woman is in her thirties is beyond me. January Jones, however...she drives me nuts. I have been watching some re-runs of Mad Men lately, and she's average in that. But between Unknown and X-Men: First Class, she's really pushing it. I think it has something to do with the fact that she has a really childish voice, she always looks stuck-up, and she's like an ice woman. And no, no matter how 'hot' the men folk think she is, I did not enjoy watching her cannoodling with Liam in the shower.

The Next Three Days features Elizabeth Banks as Russell Crowe's wife and Olivia Wilde as a fellow parent. I really like both of these actresses. Banks has always been a favourite of mine; she was brilliant in W., Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Definitely Maybe. Her performance here is beyond brilliant, showing that she really is good at both comedy and drama. Olivia Wilde was the best part about TRON: Legacy, and while she is barely used in this movie (her character was pretty much wasted), she's still awesome.

The winner: While I'd like to think that Diane can make up for January's bad performance, Elizabeth and Olivia are just better.

The intensity level:

Unknown is apparently just a rehash of Taken, which is true, to a point, but it as nowhere near as intense as that one. Liam doesn't have nearly as many people to beat the crap out of and he comes out as more of the victim. In saying that, the movie keeps up a nice pace right the way through, with wavering amounts of intensity.

The Next Three Days is quite slow, until it quickly burns up all of it's intensity in the final act. Once the movie gets to it's point, it is pretty explosive, but it takes a while to get to that point.

The winner: Definitely Unknown.

The cliché level:

Unknown, I'll admit, is ridden with with clichés, once we find out what is really happening. But the thing that I found unpredictable is what is 'really happening', if you know what I mean. Mind you, I get surprised by anything.

The Next Three Days isn't the most original piece of work (and I don't mean because it's a remake), as the premise can really only go a few ways. I felt like the thing had already been done many times before (again, I haven't seen the original so I don't mean that) and I pretty much knew what was going to happen right from the get-go (while I'm at it, the start was pretty weird in context with the rest of the film). One thing about this film that isn't so predictable though, is Lara. Now she was a wild one...

The winner: The one that has the least amount of clichés is Unknown. Hmmmmm.

My overall enjoyment level:

Unknown, of course, had my vote because it has Liam Neeson in it kicking ass as only he knows how. While I definitely wasn't wowed by it at all, and have pretty much forgotten most of it after a couple of weeks, I still really enjoyed it. Yeah, my new dad Liam could do with some better films, but Unknown isn't so bad. It looks gorgeous, it is well-acted for the most part and it definitely has a few thrills. It was perfectly adequate, and I'd probably watch it again.

The Next Three Days was a very solid film, but like Unknown, I wasn't wowed by it. The slowness really got to me, along with the waste of Olivia Wilde's character and the fact that Russell Crowe is...well, Russell Crowe. But hey, Liam has a cracking single scene, which is awesome. But looking at it's critical reception, it is a tad underrated.

The winner: I definitely enjoyed Unknown more. Yes, that is 75% to do with the fact that Liam is in it kicking butt.

Overall, the best movie that has angry men with raspy voices in it is: Unknown, which wins 4-3. They're both perfectly solid films, and I'd give them both...(leaning towards a 7 rating instead of an 8)

NOTE: I'm not awesome at all. I was only joking about that one.


  1. haha I don't think I've ever seen a movie with Liam Neeson in it, other than Narnia ones, so I'll agree with the part about him having a nice voice :D.


  2. I've seen both of these films and definitely enjoyed The Next Three Days a lot more. Like you mention in your comments, Unknown has a lot of cliches. Some of the characters' dumb moves really bothered me. However, you are right that Neeson is a much bigger part of Unknown, so focusing more on him, I can see the reasons it slid by.

  3. I liked The Next Three Days. Nothing great about it but it gets really heart-pounding intense in the last 20 minutes or so. I thought Elizabeth Banks was solid but not nearly great. Her character was unlikable and she couldn't rise above that. Haven't seen Unknown yet, not sure I want to.

  4. I've only seen Unknown, I didn't like it as much as you did but I didn't hate it either.
    It was entertaining enough but incredibly cliched and predictable, and not as good as Taken.
    I doubt I'll see The Next Three Days, it doesn't seem great and I'm finding that the more I see of Russel Crowe, the less I like him as an actor for some reason...

  5. Jordan - Have you not seen Schindler's List? If you haven't I recommend you do as soon as possible. The most life changing movie I have ever seen!

    Dan - I can see why many would pick The Next Three Days over Unknown, but the little Neeson-obsessive in me had to pick Unknown, which I enjoyed a lot more.

    Castor - The last 20 minutes were really intense!! And yeah, I found her character really annoying too.

    Jack - Unknown definitely wasn't as good as Taken. Oh well, Neeson is the man!
    I'm the same as you...the more of Crowe I see, the less I like him. I particularly disliked him in Robin Hood. Mind you, his early stuff isn't half bad, like L.A. Confidential for example.

  6. LOL. Love the title! I agree. "Unknown" could have been good, but the tone was too much like "Taken." Great twist ending though. My wife hated it. Is it weird to say "the Next Three Days" was boring. 'Cuz it was.

  7. Ahah, your title makes me laugh, Stevee. It's soo true, they both have raspy voice don't they? I haven't seen Unknown as Netflix didn't have it yet, but it's on my queue. I quite enjoy Russell's performance in TND, he's such a great actor. I do like Taken so I probably agree w/ you that Unknown will be a more enjoyable film as a whole.

  8. Maurice - Haha, thanks. Taken was far better than Unknown, but I do like me some Liam Neeson kicking ass. And yeah, The Next Three Days was pretty boring for the most part.

    Ruth - Yes, they both have raspy voices. But Liam has the better one ;) Russ is a good actor, though.


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