Identity (2003) – movie review

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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina
Director: James Mangold

Every so often a movie comes along that is a bit different to the usual stuff we see released each week. IDENTITY is one of those movies. It gets your attention from the word go and keeps you guessing almost to the end.

A handful of strangers are brought together through circumstance in an isolated motel and cut off from the outside world by a raging storm. Each character has their own story and seemingly something to hide. There’s an ex-cop Ed (John Cusack) who’s now working as a limo driver, streetwise Paris (Amanda Peet), Rhodes (Ray Liotta) a police officer transporting a psychotic killer (Jake Busey) across country, a motel manager (John Hawkes) with very strange behaviour, an actress who has had her heyday (Rebecca De Mornay), a couple of newly weds (Clea DuVall and William Lee Scott) and an injured woman (Leila Kenzle) with her husband (John C McGinley) and son (Bret Loehr).

One by one they start to get killed off and as Ed’s police instincts kick in he tries to pull the clues together to understand what’s going on.

IDENTITY is a little like an Agatha Christie ‘whodunit’ except in this case it definitely isn’t the butler! It’s a gritty complex storyline with a dark almost claustrophobic feel to it created by excellent direction and cinematography.

John Cusack, Amanda Peet and Ray Liotta all shine through giving superb performances. IDENTITY keeps you guessing for most of its duration and had this guessing game gone on up to the end I would have said the film had no faults at all, but it doesn’t. Just over three quarters of the way through the ‘twist’ becomes obvious and when the film’s secret is actually revealed you stop caring as much about the characters and that is the movie’s flaw.

That said it’s still one of the best films this year so far and a must see for edge of the seat excitement.

5 out of 6 stars