Who's In It: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Diane Kruger, Frank Langella, Bruno Ganz
The Basics: Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) takes his wife to Berlin for a biomedical conference, winds up in a random car accident, bonks his head, goes into a coma and, when he wakes up days later, finds that his lady no longer acknowledges knowing who he is AND, more insultingly, has a replacement husband also named Dr. Martin Harris. The new guy's got ID to back it up, too. Cue crazy implausibility piled on top of crazy implausibility on top of backwards car chases on top of gun battles on top of late-middle-age parkour skills on top of assassination plots and bio-thievery and international bomb throwing secret agents and the German dude from the YouTube sensation "Hitler Finds Out About ________" and you've got yourself more visceral excitement per minute than most action movies even bother to deliver.
What's The Deal: Like Taken, Liam Neeson's other kookoo-bananas action thriller, there's an alternate reading of this film available to the more overthinking-it audience members or students exploring modern themes of xenophobia in contemporary action movies. And it goes like this: Europe is terrible and ground zero of depraved crimes-for-hire, the worst known to humankind outside of child soldier-patrolled blood diamond operations in Africa. And Liam Neeson is the UK/America-sponsored minister of retribution, the way we assert badass moral authority over the excesses of democratic socialism. Meanwhile, if you don't care about any of that stuff, you can just sit back and count the eye-gouges, leadpipe skull smashing, judo chops and neckstabs. There's a lot of that.
Weird Acting Alert: It's kind of a toss-up as to who gives the goofier performance, Bruno Ganz or January Jones. She's blank and stiff and barely there, but you never know why. If "pretty" were an acting style then she'd be the master of it. Then there's Ganz (Americans know him from Downfall and Wings of Desire) a serious and acclaimed actor whose line readings here will make you think of Paula Abdul and Klonopin. Of course, some of the stuff he's required to say deserve that kind of tongue-in-cheek approach, but it's still odd to watch him do it.
The Best Part: Liam Neeson is an indestructible Frankensteiny feral animal with a head injury. He just wakes up from a coma and is suddenly jumping around on roofs and murdering people with his bare hands, finding human needles in German haystacks, reversing wrongs and outsmarting bad guys who have the edge of not just having been in a coma or planning their 60th birthday party. If it has to get done he's going to do it and, weirdly, you buy it.