Coma Ruins Neeson’s Week

Movie: Unknown – I’m a sucker for a good suspenseful thriller. And this one has the requisite twists, turns and surprises to keep you on the edge of your chair. Liam Neeson stars as an American botanist who arrives in Berlin to speak at a conference.

When he gets into a car accident and then awakes after a few days in a coma, he discovers that his identity has been usurped by another man, and his wife doesn’t even know him. But with the help of the young female cab driver who saved his life and a retired Stasi agent, he begins to unravel the mystery and create and solve new ones and further challenges.

The movie uses its Berlin setting to strong atmospheric effect abetted by German actors throughout the cast. And there’s a purposeful political theme that emerges. Good cracking entertainment.

Movie: The Debt – Based on an Israeli movie, this tale of a Mossad plot to kidnap a Nazi concentration camp doctor a la Josef Mengele hiding under an assumed name in East Berlin and its consequences years later makes for a great espionage tale of suspense.

Especially effective is the way it weaves past and present and has parallel actors playing characters when younger and older (especially promising newcomer Jessica Chastain and the peerless Helen Mirren). Like the best spy stories, it is suffused with moral ambiguity, heightened by the contrast between sunny Israel and drab and grey East Berlin. A smart and taut film.

TV Mini-Series: State of Play – This 2003 English tangled tale of crime and corruption at the place where politics/government, big oil and journalism meet recently replayed on BBC America’s Dramaville, one of the best places on TV for superior dramatic tales. And it’s well worth seeking out on DVD for its masterly woven web of intrigue, conflicted interests and, once again, moral ambiguity.

This story plays like the sad reality of how affairs of state, commerce and human relations are played today, and is one of the finest contemporary political TV dramas of our times.

Rob Patterson is an entertainment and political writer in Austin, Texas. Email orca@prismnet.com.

From The Progressive Populist, April 1, 2012


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