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Identity (2003)

  Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Michael Cooney
Starring: John Cusack, Rebecca De Mornay, John Hawkes, Ray Liotta, John C. McGinley, Amanda Peet, William Lee Scott
Links: Identity on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 7.75 (4 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked 76th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Identity (2003) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of Say Anything (1989).

"Contains teasers, but no spoilers" - a review by pearly

Identity is a twisty-turny suspenseful thriller. Set on a stormy night at a hotel that is cut off from the rest of the world by floods, the visitors at the hotel begin to be killed off. But what begins as a simple whodunnit, soon morphs, as strange things begin to happen in the hotel, and the things which you, as an audience member, took for granted don't always hold true. It is then that you realise you're not in for the ride that you initially thought you were.

Kudos to Michael Cooney for doing well with a simple idea. Without the script, this movie would be nothing. If it weren't for big name stars like John Cusack in leading roles, Identity would have reminded me even more than it actually did of Cube (1997). In some ways, it would have even been a better movie if it was populated entirely by lesser known actors, because as it was, I feel there was too much emphasis placed upon the stars, when their roles weren't necessarily the most important ones in the movie. Having people you couldn't readily recognise would have added something to it, I think.

But that's neither here nor there, because the movie's made now, and it's a great watch. Given that it does contain some great actors, it's easy to watch, because there's no-one in the cast that stands out as being terribly bad - they're all quite believable. Cusack especially seems to revel in his role as the ex-cop turned limo driver who seems to be good at everything, and he and Ray Liotta play off each other really well.

On the whole, Identity could probably only hold up to one or two repeated viewings before becoming a bit tired, and it's definitely the first viewing that will hook you in. I found the plot to be intriguing, however, some of the realisations that the characters come to were a little clichéd for my liking. These realisations (such as the birthdate and name thing) were important to the plot, but could have been done in a different way with better impact (maybe if each character started to be able to predict things about each other character, or something like that). Still, the main revelation was worth the wait.

As for the last 5 minutes or so (i.e. the true revelation of the killer), I can't decide whether I appreciated it or thought it was lame. Could have been better, anyway.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 20 Aug 2003

"Brilliant the first time around" - a review by andy-j

Identity is a good old-fashioned thriller that keeps you guessing right up until the very end. The movie starts off with ten strangers whose separate circumstances lead them all to stay overnight at a remote hotel during a wild storm. They are stranded, cut off by flooded roads. As they settle down for a quiet night to sit out the storm, they begin to discover that they are being killed, one by one. But who is the killer? Why are they being murdered? And do all of these people have a mysterious connection to one another that could perhaps explain things?

Identity is a brilliant thriller. The manner in which the characters are introduced and the way the scenes are edited together gives you a totally wrong impression about what is happening at the beginning. Whilst watching it, I soon became aware that there was more going on that it seemed, and this is what I really loved about it. It tells you a story, keeps you guessing, but at the same time, it gives you little hints that make you think that no matter how good your guesswork is, you're not going to be prepared for the real surprise. I love knowing that I'm being lead in the completely wrong direction. It allows me to look back afterwards and make some connections that I didn't make at the time. It makes me want to see the movie again so I can really appreciate the clever way in which the story was told. The payoff in Identity is as good as they get. It is explained to the point where you understand what it is all about, but leaves enough unanswered questions to leave the viewer to draw their own conclusions.

The atmosphere is never really one that evoked fear, and this is where Identity might fail. Sure, there are a whole heap of people being slowly murdered, but this felt rather standard (I was somewhat worried at one point that there might not be more to it than just this). But this isn't really the point - you're not going to remember the film for how effectively it does what it's pretending to do, you'll remember it for how effective the pretense is. Unfortunately though, this means that the movie may not stand up well to repeat viewings. Once you've seen the pay-off, watched it again a few times and picked up the clues, the whole "whodunnit" aspect could become tired. A film like The Sixth Sense (1999) got over this by providing a very tense but also very touching story to keep you watching again and again. But who knows? I think that for me, only time will tell

Identity features some well-developed characters, though some are a little stereotypical for my liking (John Cusack's character of Ed coming to mind), but the actors still do fine jobs. I really can't pick many other faults with this film. I'll be interested to see how much I enjoy it the next few times I see it, but for now, it's a ...

andy-j gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 14 Aug 2003

"Identity: Everything I can tell you about it and less." - a review by citizenjoe

Identity is a psychological thriller with a who-dunnit plot that has enough twists and turns that if I started telling you about it, I'd be giving away too much information.

Even to mention the fact that there is a baseball bat could be destroying your enjoyment of this fine film. And what a fine film it is. I can say that with ease and mean it. I know in my heart of hearts that by saying this I am not in any way spoiling the film or over blowing your expectations.

Ha! I can also say is a finely directed film by someone who obviously knows the genre and understands how to keep the tension so finely balanced that the edge of your seat will get a really good going over.

Please note that I avoided using the cliché about the tension being "finely poised on a knife's edge". That would be giving too much away. Oops, maybe I shouldn't have said that.

Now let me not say this. Yes, you're right. I know you're thinking about it. And, yes, I can't say anything about the title. Don't even think about it.

The film is written by Michael Cooney who has been a writer director on such Horror/Thrillers as Jack Frost (1997) and the wonderfully named sequel Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000). I can't tell you much about them and I don't think I'd want to. Director is James Mangold. I could tell you a lot about him, but his last movie was Kate & Leopold (2001). No one wants to be reminded of that.

However, I will repeat that Mangold does a wonderful job at keeping the tension finely poised on a knife's edge. It has terrific pace.

The ensemble cast includes, John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, John C. McGinley, William Lee Scott and Rebecca De Mornay. All are excellent in the film, but I can't tell you any more.

What else CAN I tell you? Well, I can say the film is in colour. It goddam rains all the way through the movie. It rains so much that it actually becomes another actor. Almost Oscar nomination territory. In fact, if the rain was up against Russell Crowe for best support, I'd give the rain in Identity a real shot at the statuette. It's probably the wettest movie I have seen. (It even comes close to 9 1/2 Weeks (1986), in a different kind of way. All those blokes who saw this movie during their pubescent teens will know exactly what I mean. But that's another stor..., sorry ... film.)

citizenjoe gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 31 Jul 2003

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 3
Number of ratings: 4
Average rating: 7.75
Lowest rating: 7 (by em_fiction, pearly)
Highest rating: 9 (by andy-j)
 
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