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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 The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"The Movie that Wasn't There"
2 stars

Some people disagree, but I don't see anything wrong with revealing that a film contains a Big Surprise Twist--provided, of course, that you don't say WHAT it is exactly. It's difficult to describe IDENTITY without reference to the Big Twist, as the film is essentially constructed atop it. Problem is, in IDENTITY the Big Twist sucks, and when it arrives it sends the whole production crashing like a house of cards.

The setup goes like this: A bizarre series of Rube Goldberg-ish coincidences bring a pack of disparate strangers together in a remote rural motel during one dark and stormy night. Their number include a cop (Ray Liotta), the prisoner he's transporting, an ex-cop (John Cusack), and a stuck-up actress (Rebecca De Mornay). All the sudden, they begin to get bumped off one by one--and there's no logical explanation for the killings. What's going on?

The film does eventually provide an answer, though not one you're likely to find satisfactory; but in truth IDENTITY begins falling apart before then. Directed James Mangold seems to be addicted to the full gamut of horror-flick cliches. I noted with considerable astonishment that he literally tries to create suspense and ambiguity by making the viewer guess which dumb cliche he's employing. At times IDENTITY looks like just another lame slasher movie--after all, that's the only kind of flick where dead bodies show up in washing machines. On another occasion, he hints that a nearby Indian burial ground (sigh...) might be the source of the problem. And have you ever noticed that no one in the entire history of film has ever transported a prisoner from one location to another without something going wrong?

As for the Big Twist... don't worry, I won't spill the beans. I'll just say this: Raymond Chandler once argued that a successful mystery tale must fulfill two requirements: One, the solution must come as a surprise, and two, it must seem inevitable in retrospect. A good mystery has you smacking yourself in the head, asking, Why didn't I see that coming? It's this second requirement that trips up IDENTITY, which pulls out a Twilight Zone surprise that only creates as many questions as it tries to answer.

Thespianship is, overall, pretty good, with Cusack giving the best performance as the intense but reliable ex-cop. But De Mornay and Liotta both come off as too shrill. De Mornay is admittedly playing a stereotype, but Liotta just tries too hard--he tends to sound like he's had too much caffeine.

A disappointing film.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7563&reviewer=223
originally posted: 04/27/03 17:50:35
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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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