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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
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"One more pointless guess-what's-real thriller."
2 stars

Full disclosure: I have little patience with thrillers that play with you for its own superior sake, leading up to a big twist ending designed to make you feel like a sap.

Unless it's done in fun (Brian De Palma's specialty) or driving at something larger than simply the filmmakers' dominion over a gullible audience, what's the point? You've just spent a chunk of the day being manipulated for nothing. The rain-swept, brooding, violent thriller Identity is one such elaborately crafted necklace of nothing. The characters are not people; they're not even pawns. They're just pieces of the puzzle.

Fate, or Michael Cooney's contrived screenplay, brings together ten pieces -- er, people -- on a dark and stormy night: limo driver Ed (John Cusack) and his movie-star employer Caroline (Rebecca DeMornay); detective Rhodes (Ray Liotta) and a vicious killer he's transporting (Jake Busey); an unhappily and recently married young couple (Clea DuVall and William Lee Scott); a star-crossed family of three (stepdad John C. McGinley, mom Leila Kenzle, and little son Bret Loehr); and Larry (John Hawkes), manager of the remote motel everyone converges on. The roads are flooded, the phone lines are out, and people start to die. Something nasty is found in a clothes dryer; one character is permanently silenced with a baseball bat; and so on. Identity is a guess-what's-real slasher movie with high secretive overtones. There's more to what we're seeing than we're seeing.

The question is whether we care about seeing the Big Truth. Every now and then, we move away from the body count at the motel and sit in on a hearing concerning a condemned prisoner. Is this the Busey character, or someone else? This is a very short movie, so it's obvious to anyone who's seen a movie before that there's something fishy about this hearing, which appears to be taking place on the same dark stormy night. In such thrillers, any apparently pointless scene is really there for a reason -- maybe the Big Reason.

A good cast is enacting this fancy rubbish; what drew them to the material besides its self-conscious cleverness is beyond me, since they rarely get to push the tight envelope they're stuffed into. Cusack, as always, exudes an aura of intelligent decency, which of course sets you up to think he might be the mysterious killer (especially after he talks about his history of blackouts). Most of the other characters pretty much are what they appear to be, though each has his or her secrets and shames. Mainly, the rigid control of the screenwriter rules the day. There was probably precious little improv on the set, and few discussions of character depth, since everyone is no more or less than what the script requires.

Perhaps the biggest mystery of Identity is its director. James Mangold has done a dour indie drama (Heavy), a convoluted cop drama (Cop Land), a sensitive female ensemble piece (Girl, Interrupted), and a cross-century romance (Kate & Leopold). Now this. If we try hard enough to find a thematic link in Mangold's work, it would appear to be the onion-like layers of delusion and deception hiding our true selves from other people and from ourselves. Identity, I guess, fits into that, but it's a pretty crude and obvious reiteration of his theme.

If you want to get to the bottom of your characters' identities, it helps if they have identities first.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7563&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/02/07 12:43:13
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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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