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Overall Rating
3.53

Awesome: 29.38%
Worth A Look31.64%
Average: 12.99%
Pretty Bad: 14.69%
Total Crap: 11.3%

9 reviews, 123 user ratings


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Identity
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Doug Bentin

"“Identity” is a dream movie for people who love thrillers."
4 stars

No suspense film is more fun than one with tricky plotting that shifts around all the time and seems destined to end up at point A, but then spins around at the last minute and sends you to point X. When it doesn’t work, as it didn’t in “Basic,” which opened not too long before “Identity,” you’re left with the feeling that you want to hurl something at the screen. Like the writer, for instance. Or at least, his head.

But when it does work, oh baby. I remember throwing a paperback mystery across the room once because I had been so beautifully hornswaggled by the author—Agatha Christie, no less. Yeah. Welcome to the club.

Christie’s work is an obvious influence on “Identity.” The movie is much more brutal than Christie ever was, although the blood we see is that which has already been spilled. Director James Mangold (“Girl, Interrupted” “Kate & Leopold”) creates a sense of dread and impending doom without a show of onscreen bloodletting. But one of the characters in Michael Cooney’s deft script reminds us of Christie’s classic stage thriller “Ten Little Indians,” and there is homage to Christie aplenty. I won’t go into details because to do so might reveal plot twists to Dame Agatha’s fans. In fact, you may not realize how much debt the script owes to Christie until you think later about what you saw.

John Cusack stars as Ed, an ex-cop and burnt out case who now works as a chauffeur for a bitchy movie star on the way down (Rebecca DeMorney). While squabbling in the car, Ed hits a woman standing on the rainy highway. The woman and her husband and son stopped on the road because they had a blow-out caused by the lost high heel of a Vegas hooker (Amanda Peet) on her way to purchase an orange grove in Florida.

All these people, in addition to a pair of young newly weds whose marriage is based on a lie, and a cop (Ray Liotta) who is transporting a vicious killer (Jake Busey) on his way to his execution, are forced by a relentless storm to stop at a run down motel.

Just after the con escapes, people begin to die. The hand of each corpse is clutching a key to one of the motel’s cabins, beginning with number 10 and counting backwards. “Ten Little Indians,” indeed.

It all seems like updated Christie until the escaped con, running away from the motel we see behind him, sees buildings with lights in their windows in front of him. He approaches one of them, crawls through a window, crosses the room and looks out the front window only to see that he is back in the motel.

Earlier, Ed had been reading Jean Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness.” Could the motel be a hell from which there is no escape?

And then the corpses of the victims begin to disappear. And everyone discovers that they share the same birthday.

One impossibility is piled atop another, and the rain continues to fall on just and unjust alike.

It’s all unraveled after a pair of false endings. I was perfectly pleased with the resolution, but I overheard a number of groans on the way out of the theater. Yes, film displays for the most part a realistic representation of the world around us—but that doesn’t mean you have to believe in the verity of everything you see on the screen. Moviegoers who think nothing of unreliable narrative in novels rebel when faced with a similar technique in film. Hitchcock faced a similar reaction on the release of “Stage Fright,” as did Christie herself with the publication of her most notorious least likely culprit mystery. I can’t even tell you which one it is. Just remember that liars tell stories, too. You could even say that anyone who tells a story is a liar.

I won’t say any more about this for fear of leading you astray, and I wouldn’t want to do that. Heh heh heh.

The cast is uniformly good and includes Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall, John Hawkes and William Lee Scott.

You don’t have to know anything about Agatha Christie or Jean Paul Sartre to enjoy “Identity,” but you do have to know something about them to smile at the notion of the two of them being mentioned in one sentence in a movie review.

I was disappointed when “Identity, unlike “The Ring,” “Joy Ride,” and “The Sixth Sense,” did not turn out to be a sleeper hit because, despite the plethora of failures, I like tricky thrillers. This is one of the good ones. See it with someone you like to argue with.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7563&reviewer=405
originally posted: 09/29/05 02:16:15
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User Comments

5/08/18 Lily was interested in the set up, but the cop out and ableist ending made me regret watching it 2 stars
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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