Run time 109 minutes.
OK for children.

Liam Neeson in “Unknown.”

Two years ago Liam Neeson starred in a film released very early in the year — the graveyard time for films. It bucked the trend and became a breakout hit. So now he’s following it up with another tense film, released when most of what’s out there in competition stinks.

Based on the novel by Didier van Cauwelaert, Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (January Jones) suddenly doesn’t recognize him, and that another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Even his wife denies his existence. All alone in Berlin, he’s not only perplexed, someone is trying to kill him. What’s going on?

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra from a screenplay by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell, this is a non-stop, high tension thriller that doesn’t let up until the end.

Adding to the wonderful ambience of the film are the cinematography (Flavio Labiano), production design (Richard Bridgland) and editing (Tim Alverson) — which is so important to creating and maintaining pace. But what’s most important in these types of films is the music, and this is replete with a wonderful, mood-enhancing score by John Ottman and Alexander Rudd.

Martin’s only friend is the reluctant Gina (Diane Kruger, in a fine performance), a refugee who drove the cab in which Martin got injured. Frank Langella makes one of his always convincing performances near the end of the film as Rodney Cole, a friend from the U.S. upon whom Martin relies to finally establish his identity to all the doubters.

Martin seems to be facing an insoluble problem, but when it all comes together at the end it makes perfect sense.

I Am Number Four

Run time 105 Minutes.
OK for teenagers.

Alex Pettyfer in “I Am Number Four.”

John (Alex Pettyfer) is an alien from a far-off planet disguised as a high school student. He lives with Henri (Timothy Olyphant), who pretends to be his father but is really his protector and mentor. John is one of at least six people from his planet who are being pursued by Mogadorians — bad people from his planet who want to kill them all — led by the Mogadorian Commander Kevin Durand.

The Mogadorians have been successful with the first three. Now they are after John. John and Henri keep moving around and finally land in Ohio, where John enrolls in the local high school and falls for Sarah (Dianna Agron), another high school student. Before all the action, the film sets up a sort of male Mean Girls. John befriends Sam (Callan McAuliffe), the little guy who is always picked on by the bullies, led by Mark (Jake Abel), who also is Sarah’s ex-boyfriend who dumped her but still pursues her.

Directed by D.J. Caruso, written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Marti Noxon, and based on the novel by Jobie Hughes and James Frey, this is an action-packed, special effects-laden film with terrific pace by Caruso, who previously directed two films I liked a lot: Eagle Eye (2008) and Disturbia (2007). This one is as entertaining as those. Unlike the Twilight series that is also aimed primarily at 13-year-old females and has brought vacuity to an even lower level than one would expect, this can appeal to a wide audience, including adults.

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