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Overall Rating
3.54

Awesome: 29.55%
Worth A Look31.82%
Average: 13.07%
Pretty Bad: 14.2%
Total Crap: 11.36%

9 reviews, 122 user ratings


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Identity
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by Erik Childress

"Spoiler Warnings? Please, This Movie Spoils Itself."
3 stars

There are three levels of anger I can feel after any film I see. Level one is the pretty basic “I hate this movie so much I wish it could be murdered.” Above that is a level coupled with sadness that I’ve just seen a great idea for a film destroyed by the filmmakers. But the granddaddy of all condition reds in the movie theater for me is watching a film that is so cool, so well-executed and so fun derail in its final act so fiercely that I want to grab hold of the screenwriter and bitchslap him until he’s aware of the atrocity he’s created. Guess which level IDENTITY resides at.

Guess all you want. After all the film is a mystery. At least on the surface. And it’s impossible for me to describe what upset me without going into various plot points that are naturally meant to be kept secret. At least until the screenwriter ran out of ideas. That’s right Michael Cooney, you writer/director of the two Jack Frost killer snowman movies you. I’m pointing the finger at you. Now guess which finger that is. You took a dated-but-entertaining concept reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, made it shine fresh for 70 minutes before flooding it with the simplest possible explanation for the Rod Serling slasher. Now this review is frustrating me because even my sarcasm will come equipped with spoilers for savvy moviegoers. Let me tell you what’s there before I get to what isn’t.

An emergency meeting is called the night before a murderer’s execution. The lawyers and psychiatrists have all gathered and the prisoner is about to be transferred to them. On a dark and stormy night, there’s been an accident overtly conducted by fate that’s going to bring eleven strangers together at a motel. There’s the ex-cop turned chaffeur (John Cusack) and his washed up actress client (Rebecca DeMornay), newlyweds (Clea DuVall & William Lee Scott), a family with a personal tragedy in tow (John C. McGinley, Leila Kenzle & Bret Loehr), the hooker (Amanda Peet), the hotel manager (John Hawkes) and the cop (Ray Liotta) transporting his prisoner (Jake Busey).

Soon enough, bodies begin to drop with the killer leaving behind room keys as a countdown to the last man or woman standing. Is there a connection between them all? DuVall, just as she did in The Faculty, invites us to remember “that story on the island” that I mentioned earlier just as the coincidences start to get spookier and more labyrinthine. At the 70-minute mark we can’t wait for everything to be tied together, the killer unmasked and the rug to be pulled out from under us. And then it happens. As you try to figure out if you’re witnessing a flashback or a flashforward, you will quickly realize that the rug is resting above a bald head. We know it’s a rug and we know there’s nothing underneath. No hair. No bite. Nothing but the most obvious and overused exegesis this side of a Brian DePalma dream sequence. And now, the spoilers begin.

*****SPOILERS BEGIN*****

The only plot device more overused than serial killers is multiple personalities.” So says Charlie Kaufmann in Adaptation. It doesn’t stop his twin brother Donald from completing his screenplay, “The 3” and apparently having co-star John Cusack snatch it up for this flick. In perfect irony, the last three standing are the cop, the killer and a woman. Once this U-turn is laid on us, it takes some real confidence in the material to believe that the audience will now give a single, let alone two shits about the remaining survivors. Of course its easier for a deluded screenwriter, much like a schizophrenic, to convince themselves of such confidence rather than taking the time to come up with something original to tie up all the loose ends. With so many personalities to keep track of, even the doctors lose track. “9 of 10 were dispatched.” Did they forget about #11 and how do we account for Peet’s customer, the other cop and what’s in the freezer?

*****SPOILERS END*****

Here I was all ready to revoke the hack status of director James Mangold (Girl Interrupted, Kate & Leopold), but he has once again proven that telling a story to its maximum strength is not his strongsuit. There are flashes of greatness in Identity provided by both Mangold and Cooney. The events leading up to the hotel arrival and the Bunuelian nightmare of one potential escapee are standouts alongside the ghastliness of some of the murders. Of course those flashes disappear quicker when adding the words back or forward.

The third act may have worked 40 years ago as the surprise ending to one of those Twilight Zone episodes, but audiences expect, and frankly, deserve more these days. Moviegoers have seen it all and been back again. It can’t help when the “new twist” bandwagon is jumped on more frequently than Robert Downey Jr. drinking a Lemon Pepsi. For God’s sake, be bold. Test the concept and the boundaries of fate. It’s clear they’re having fun with the introduction of every possible red herring imaginable, so why were the filmmakers so inept to not consider that what they had was just as ridiculous as the IBG Theory (or Indian Burial Ground). The script in ADAPTATION was a joke and it’s sad that everyone involved wasn’t in on it and dragged the audience to the top of the greatest imaginable rollercoaster only to breakdown before sending us down the hill.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7563&reviewer=198
originally posted: 04/25/03 08:33:44
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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
9/18/10 Jesse Joseph Kept my interest but left me wondering what in the end really occurred. 4 stars
6/14/09 Seamus Brilliantly written film with a terrible, dissapointing, cop-out, cliche ending. 2 stars
10/27/08 Jobin Basani Its worth a watch...i loved the ending 4 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome storyline! 5 stars
2/29/08 Tammy Kennedy very good movie, keeps you guessing 4 stars
8/07/07 Quigley Pretty cool thriller that actually felt original. Average plot twist. Cusack was great 5 stars
3/07/07 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
1/18/07 William Goss Not entirely surprising, but admirably taut nonetheless. 4 stars
4/21/06 Becky Cusack is perfect. A thriller that makes you think. + Al Molina, whoo! 5 stars
2/14/06 Frank Rountree A good movie to watch on a rainy day/night. It keeps you guessing. 4 stars
11/23/05 Melissa I loved it! Great setting, night/rain/hotel/strangers - Suspensfull till the end! 5 stars
11/01/05 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
6/28/05 R i totally didn't see the end coming! (as in, even after the twist, it just wouldn't end.) 1 stars
2/07/05 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
12/30/04 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
9/02/04 Ice Queen Disturbing 4 stars
9/01/04 uncool this movie is sick 4 stars
6/25/04 Ray Good 5 stars
6/23/04 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
4/26/04 Lord Jiggy Interesting, if a little pat in it's need for the "twist within a twist" ending. 4 stars
4/21/04 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
4/10/04 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
1/26/04 American Slasher Goddess Very pointless with the most stupid plot twist I've ever seen. 1 stars
1/03/04 A F How predictable can you get? What a waste of time. 2 stars
12/03/03 re A GREAT FILM 5 stars
12/01/03 HorrorScribbler Great cast, good writing 5 stars
11/23/03 bullit16 Keeps you guessing all the way 4 stars
11/20/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) The big twist saved it from what seemed like an old Hitch pic with cheap modern conventions 4 stars
11/18/03 he a great film 5 stars
11/17/03 Mark Morrissey Creepy fun all the way 4 stars
11/07/03 Richard Ryherd Best movie I have seen in a long while!! 5 stars
10/19/03 gene beattie much ado about nothing 1 stars
10/17/03 Josh Standlee Scary as freaking hell! Ray Liotta and Jake Busey play the best characters! 5 stars
10/14/03 Stephanie Trite and contrived, but entertaining enough. 3 stars
10/14/03 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
10/12/03 laura paterson confusing and scary.liotta steals it from cusack! 4 stars
10/09/03 snowconehead Formulaic plots that completely shift 3/4 into the film can only be decent at best. 4 stars
10/06/03 Darryl First half bored me (fell asleep). Then I just didn't get it. Confusing plot. 2 stars
9/29/03 cinkcool decent, but im still a sucker for a happy ending 4 stars
9/28/03 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
9/21/03 Flick Chick boring throughout - interesting end. 3 stars
9/18/03 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
9/05/03 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
8/28/03 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
8/16/03 Red great 5 stars
8/05/03 Dave Awesome movie, awesome actors. Great story and plot. 5 stars
7/31/03 Nicole Hated the ending.....dumbfounded that I couldn't see it coming from miles away 3 stars
7/31/03 nr AWESOME 5 stars
7/26/03 Heather Purplethorne Pretty good, although never rose to level of what I expected it to focus on-Alice's amnesia 4 stars
7/25/03 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
7/11/03 nr great i loved it 5 stars
6/30/03 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
6/11/03 Hottie I thought this was a GREAT movie and the actors did great also! 5 stars
6/04/03 Jen AWESOME!!!! I adore John Cusack!!! Anyhoo, this movie was brilliant!!! 5 stars
5/30/03 mee great 5 stars
5/27/03 malcolm double twist at the end -- nice 4 stars
5/20/03 your worse goddamn nightmare Could someone honestly say what in the fuck this "film" was about? I enjoyed it tho........ 3 stars
5/17/03 olivia great 5 stars
5/14/03 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
5/10/03 Louise Hopper what the hell? 2 stars
5/10/03 Angolmois Pretty clever for a Hollywood movie, which doesn't say much. Dialogue sucks rather bad. 4 stars
5/08/03 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
5/05/03 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
5/04/03 Norma Bensley A great thriller - doesn't quite come together as it should.... 5 stars
5/04/03 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
5/02/03 Nancy Niedzielski some silly, sillu things, but I guess I was entertained 3 stars
5/02/03 Taylor Fladgate Could have been "awesome", except for the ending. Stupid ending. 4 stars
5/01/03 Hooters gurl Intelligent film that will be thouroughly enjoyed by all who have a brain to think with. 5 stars
5/01/03 Flounder This movie is one of the best mystery/horror films that I have seen in quite a long while! 5 stars
4/30/03 Shayla A movie where you get to play detective and use the clues to figure out the end! 5 stars
4/30/03 JJ DuVall needs to stop acting and this has one of the DUMBEST twists in a movie ever!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
4/30/03 blake A GREAT FIL I LOVE IT 5 stars
4/30/03 Kyle I liked it. 4 stars
4/30/03 Dana Carvey must DIE!!! Some clichéd casting (Liotta, Duvall), a gimicky script, twists you see a mile away. But OK 3 stars
4/29/03 Vince some one else said it before - almost great but not quite 4 stars
4/29/03 Worse Than You! Lifeless cliche full of stupid acting choices and a ridiculously funny twist 1 stars
4/29/03 scott GREAT FILM 5 stars
4/29/03 Obi Wan Very good....loved it. 5 stars
4/28/03 maximus Definitely worth a look 4 stars
4/28/03 stud a great film 5 stars
4/28/03 King Richard not bad 4 stars
4/28/03 Blubberbot I liked 4 stars
4/28/03 michaelb14 A good movie that was almost but not quite great 4 stars
4/28/03 Jason Beyer It's a damn good thriller. 4 stars
4/27/03 joedom Love to leave a movie theater and still be thinking about the movie hours later 5 stars
4/27/03 Tyler Nawed my nails off while at the same time laping in the stellar perfomances. 5 stars
4/27/03 Robb Morpheus Except for Cusack, just celluloid toilet paper. 1 stars
4/27/03 Chip I loved it, the crowd clapped at the end 5 stars
4/27/03 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
4/26/03 Jack Sommersby A good-looking but ridiculous, lumbering thriller. Cusack is superb; Liotta is grating. 1 stars
4/26/03 Josh Interesting psychological twist on old formula. Spooky fun. 4 stars
4/26/03 Pete What A HORRIBLE ending. Bad acting bad script goes nowhere. STUPID 1 stars
4/26/03 Andrew Carden The Screenplay Is A Mess, but The Cast Is Sensastional. McGinley Is Oscar-Worthy. 4 stars
4/26/03 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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