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Overall Rating
3.54

Awesome: 29.55%
Worth A Look31.82%
Just Average: 13.07%
Pretty Crappy: 14.2%
Sucks: 11.36%

9 reviews, 122 user ratings


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Identity
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by EricDSnider

"Hotel horrors: First, no clean towels, THEN, people start getting killed!"
4 stars

The identity of “Identity” remains a secret for most of the film’s running time. Mystery? Psychological thriller? Slasher film? None of the above? The film cleverly keeps its audience off-balance without violating its own rules or using cheap tactics. When it’s over, it makes perfect sense, and further reflection on the film’s details only enhances that perception. This is an excellent whatever-it-is.

Eleven people, most of them strangers to each other, are stranded by a vicious rainstorm at a motel in the Nevada desert. One of them is a convicted murderer (Jake Busey) being transported to a sanity hearing; inevitably, he escapes and people begin to die.

With the dark-and-stormy-night setting and systematic bumping off of the characters — each one is even identified with a numbered room key — it seems like a gorier version of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians.” But the film also examines the nature of coincidence and the connections strangers have with each other, a la “Magnolia” or “Run Lola Run.”

Information is often revealed in a non-linear fashion, too, taking us back in time to see events from different points of view. Fans of TV’s “Boomtown” will recognize this device.

And so the film, directed by James Mangold (“Girl, Interrupted”) is tantalizingly difficult to categorize. It’s not that it has randomly slapped together elements of several genres. Instead, it’s a zealous effort on the part of the screenwriter, Michael Cooney, to avoid predictability. There is no clear plot destination, and that is not due to a lack of focus, but an intentional effort to keep us from knowing what’s going to happen.

Slowly, we recognize the straightforward serial killing is anything but straightforward, as the film begins playing subtle mind tricks on us. Why does the cop (Ray Liotta) have blood on his back? Why does the desk clerk (John Hawkes) hate prostitutes so much? Hints are dropped all over the place; the genius of the film is that you don’t realize they were hints until after the fact.

Other possibilities for the deaths — including supernatural forces and even, heaven help us, an ancient Indian burial ground — are introduced. It would be unfair to indicate which elements in the film prove to be red herrings and which prove to be important. From a certain standpoint, everything in the film means something, because it comes from — well, I have said too much already.

John Cusack, who I’m now convinced can play anything, plays Ed, a limo driver whose collision with a woman (Leila Kenzle) sets the early events in motion. His performance is strong and marked by grim humor. John C. McGinley is strangely effective as the accident victim’s distraught husband; the rest of the cast (which includes Amanda Peet and Clea DuVall) is serviceable. This smart, original thriller deserves an audience.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7563&reviewer=247
originally posted: 04/27/03 16:08:30
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User Comments

11/05/11 The Door Interesting, engaging, creepy ... then instant fail for the "it was all a dream" ending. 2 stars
9/17/10 Jesse Joseph Kept my interest but left me wondering what in the end really occurred. 4 stars
6/13/09 Seamus Brilliantly written film with a terrible, dissapointing, cop-out, cliche ending. 2 stars
10/26/08 Jobin Basani Its worth a watch...i loved the ending 4 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome storyline! 5 stars
2/29/08 Tammy Kennedy very good movie, keeps you guessing 4 stars
8/06/07 Quigley Pretty cool thriller that actually felt original. Average plot twist. Cusack was great 5 stars
3/06/07 Stanley Thai A Very Clever Thriller of whodunnit. 4 stars
2/18/07 Nick Maday Nothing really spectacular about it, and the end was kind of predictable. 3 stars
2/08/07 Raph Branca Brilliant film full of twists and turns. Classic. 5 stars
1/17/07 William Goss Not entirely surprising, but admirably taut nonetheless. 4 stars
4/20/06 Becky Cusack is perfect. A thriller that makes you think. + Al Molina, whoo! 5 stars
2/13/06 Frank Rountree A good movie to watch on a rainy day/night. It keeps you guessing. 4 stars
11/22/05 Melissa I loved it! Great setting, night/rain/hotel/strangers - Suspensfull till the end! 5 stars
10/31/05 R.W.Welch Too gimmicky by half, but has some flair to it. 3 stars
9/13/05 ray mero Deliciously satisfying on so many levels...as clever as a perfect nightmare. 5 stars
6/27/05 R i totally didn't see the end coming! (as in, even after the twist, it just wouldn't end.) 1 stars
2/06/05 Littlepurch Great cast, fantastic 'Agatha Christie' intrigue, impressive mystery, amazin twist. 5 stars
2/02/05 christopher i wanted to know when it was going to end way to soon 1 stars
12/29/04 tatum Excellent, kept me guessing (which is rare these days) 5 stars
9/20/04 Valerie Pretty good, but the ending was kind of weird..... 3 stars
9/01/04 Ice Queen Disturbing 4 stars
8/31/04 uncool this movie is sick 4 stars
6/24/04 Ray Good 5 stars
6/22/04 Freeman A Great who done it, waiting on part 2 5 stars
4/28/04 Chaske Faulk I thought Identity was a very good film. A lot is going on, who doesn't like mysteries? 4 stars
4/25/04 Lord Jiggy Interesting, if a little pat in it's need for the "twist within a twist" ending. 4 stars
4/20/04 zeitgeist Interesting twist, very Philip K Dick-esque. Don't judge it by the awful trailer 4 stars
4/15/04 The More You Know the title deconstructs into id + entity...Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey...j/k 2 stars
4/09/04 LIAM JACKSON Fantastic movie. Excellent twist.Very creepy. 5 stars
3/09/04 dester Not bad at all 4 stars
1/31/04 John Godrich decidedly average 3 stars
1/25/04 American Slasher Goddess Very pointless with the most stupid plot twist I've ever seen. 1 stars
1/02/04 A F How predictable can you get? What a waste of time. 2 stars
12/02/03 re A GREAT FILM 5 stars
11/30/03 HorrorScribbler Great cast, good writing 5 stars
11/22/03 bullit16 Keeps you guessing all the way 4 stars
11/19/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) The big twist saved it from what seemed like an old Hitch pic with cheap modern conventions 4 stars
11/17/03 he a great film 5 stars
11/16/03 Mark Morrissey Creepy fun all the way 4 stars
11/06/03 Richard Ryherd Best movie I have seen in a long while!! 5 stars
10/19/03 gene beattie much ado about nothing 1 stars
10/16/03 Josh Standlee Scary as freaking hell! Ray Liotta and Jake Busey play the best characters! 5 stars
10/13/03 Stephanie Trite and contrived, but entertaining enough. 3 stars
10/13/03 Erik Van Sant Lame attempt at a twist-ending that my girlfriend figured in the first act. OK at best. 3 stars
10/12/03 Brandon Awesome movie! 5 stars
10/11/03 laura paterson confusing and scary.liotta steals it from cusack! 4 stars
10/08/03 snowconehead Formulaic plots that completely shift 3/4 into the film can only be decent at best. 4 stars
10/05/03 Darryl First half bored me (fell asleep). Then I just didn't get it. Confusing plot. 2 stars
9/28/03 cinkcool decent, but im still a sucker for a happy ending 4 stars
9/27/03 Jiz The first few twists were good. But the ending was predictable and shitty. Great otherwise. 4 stars
9/25/03 Ingo A must. One of the best (american) movies this year. 5 stars
9/20/03 Flick Chick boring throughout - interesting end. 3 stars
9/17/03 Maurice The Predator Strange, but quite good 4 stars
9/16/03 May Q. Horney Too many flashbacks&letdowns;yet Good for a film that actually lets Amanda Peet steal show! 4 stars
9/11/03 Kooler saw it coming from miles away 4 stars
9/10/03 tediboy This movie is full of red herrings...a solid thriller! 5 stars
9/04/03 Marisa Please, can somebody explain this movie to me?????? 4 stars
9/04/03 eddie pure genius - if you don't agree with me, you are wrong. I have spoken. 5 stars
8/27/03 anna Intriguing movie marred by SHITTIEST COP OUT ENDING THIS SUMMER. 1 stars
8/26/03 dado great 5 stars
8/25/03 Laurian Diaconescu One of the best movies I've seen in my entire life. I knew John Cusack = a must see. 5 stars
8/15/03 Red great 5 stars
8/05/03 Dave Awesome movie, awesome actors. Great story and plot. 5 stars
7/30/03 Nicole Hated the ending.....dumbfounded that I couldn't see it coming from miles away 3 stars
7/30/03 nr AWESOME 5 stars
7/25/03 Heather Purplethorne Pretty good, although never rose to level of what I expected it to focus on-Alice's amnesia 4 stars
7/24/03 May Q. Horney Too many flashbacks&letdowns;yet Good for a film that actually lets Amanda Peet steal show! 4 stars
7/13/03 Joe great 5 stars
7/10/03 nr great i loved it 5 stars
6/29/03 gray Strong cast, gripping mystery but more could have been done with the characters 4 stars
6/11/03 Rocky Well, shit my mouth and call me a doofus 5 stars
6/10/03 Hottie I thought this was a GREAT movie and the actors did great also! 5 stars
6/03/03 Jen AWESOME!!!! I adore John Cusack!!! Anyhoo, this movie was brilliant!!! 5 stars
5/29/03 mee great 5 stars
5/26/03 malcolm double twist at the end -- nice 4 stars
5/19/03 your worse goddamn nightmare Could someone honestly say what in the fuck this "film" was about? I enjoyed it tho........ 3 stars
5/16/03 olivia great 5 stars
5/13/03 David E. Miller Towards the end, you care less for the people. But it's a cool concept. Great cast! 4 stars
5/11/03 olivia great film 5 stars
5/11/03 Nicole I feel duped....should have seen that ending coming from a mile away 4 stars
5/09/03 Louise Hopper what the hell? 2 stars
5/09/03 Angolmois Pretty clever for a Hollywood movie, which doesn't say much. Dialogue sucks rather bad. 4 stars
5/07/03 V FANTASTIC PREMISE, STYLISH AND NOIRISH; HOWEVER, MANGOLD FORFEITED CREATIVE SOUL FOR CLICHE 4 stars
5/05/03 Jack Bourbon Stupid, pointless, illogical, silly cop-out of an ending. IT'S CRAP! 1 stars
5/04/03 KCobain Flowers all around. 5 stars
5/04/03 Obi Wan Wow.....ending could have used a bit more work, but still great! 5 stars
5/03/03 Norma Bensley A great thriller - doesn't quite come together as it should.... 5 stars
5/03/03 Duende Fine movie until the idiotic plot twist... 1 stars
5/03/03 Jackson62 Twist was a little too ridiculous but the acting saves it. 4 stars
5/01/03 Nancy Niedzielski some silly, sillu things, but I guess I was entertained 3 stars
5/01/03 Taylor Fladgate Could have been "awesome", except for the ending. Stupid ending. 4 stars
4/30/03 Hooters gurl Intelligent film that will be thouroughly enjoyed by all who have a brain to think with. 5 stars
4/30/03 Flounder This movie is one of the best mystery/horror films that I have seen in quite a long while! 5 stars
4/29/03 Shayla A movie where you get to play detective and use the clues to figure out the end! 5 stars
4/29/03 JJ DuVall needs to stop acting and this has one of the DUMBEST twists in a movie ever!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
4/29/03 blake A GREAT FIL I LOVE IT 5 stars
4/29/03 Kyle I liked it. 4 stars
4/29/03 Dana Carvey must DIE!!! Some clichéd casting (Liotta, Duvall), a gimicky script, twists you see a mile away. But OK 3 stars
4/28/03 Vince some one else said it before - almost great but not quite 4 stars
4/28/03 Worse Than You! Lifeless cliche full of stupid acting choices and a ridiculously funny twist 1 stars
4/28/03 scott GREAT FILM 5 stars
4/28/03 Obi Wan Very good....loved it. 5 stars
4/27/03 maximus Definitely worth a look 4 stars
4/27/03 stud a great film 5 stars
4/27/03 King Richard not bad 4 stars
4/27/03 Blubberbot I liked 4 stars
4/27/03 michaelb14 A good movie that was almost but not quite great 4 stars
4/27/03 Jason Beyer It's a damn good thriller. 4 stars
4/26/03 joedom Love to leave a movie theater and still be thinking about the movie hours later 5 stars
4/26/03 Tyler Nawed my nails off while at the same time laping in the stellar perfomances. 5 stars
4/26/03 Robb Morpheus Except for Cusack, just celluloid toilet paper. 1 stars
4/26/03 Chip I loved it, the crowd clapped at the end 5 stars
4/26/03 Jim lots of twists and turns 4 stars
4/26/03 GuyGuy read what everyone else said 2 stars
4/26/03 George Jung A pointless exercise of psychological masterbation from a killer no one cares about. 1 stars
4/26/03 strider3700 Cusack is awesome. But enough movies with twists at the end already. 4 stars
4/25/03 Jack Sommersby A good-looking but ridiculous, lumbering thriller. Cusack is superb; Liotta is grating. 1 stars
4/25/03 Josh Interesting psychological twist on old formula. Spooky fun. 4 stars
4/25/03 Pete What A HORRIBLE ending. Bad acting bad script goes nowhere. STUPID 1 stars
4/25/03 Andrew Carden The Screenplay Is A Mess, but The Cast Is Sensastional. McGinley Is Oscar-Worthy. 4 stars
4/25/03 Joe This Makes The Friday The 13th Series Look Like Shakesphere 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Apr-2003 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  31-Jul-2003


Directed by
  James Mangold

Written by
  Michael Cooney

Cast
  John Cusack
  Ray Liotta
  Amanda Peet
  John C. McGinley
  Alfred Molina
  Clea DuVall
  Jake Busey



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