on April 26, 2004
....the premise is silly and the ending sillier in this so-called psychological mystery. Without trying to give too much away, I'd have felt more better if the Liotta character was actually the mass murderer and he and Amanda Peet were left to fight to the death, so to speak--this to me, simply became one dark, gloomy and soggy night at the 'Don't Drop In' Motor Inn. Even though the creators tried to keep it from being another horror-slash film like Halloween, (maybe to revitalise that genre for an older demographic--the original audiences for the 80's slasher film), in my opinion, that's exactly how it comes off, except the victims are not horny, drunk teenagers. It also has the feel of the director shooting scenes just as the writer(s) come up with new pages of dialog. Which was okay in those days when they were doing those corny Sat Morning Matinee serials. The only redeeming value of this movie, to me, is that it has that glamourous De Mornay in it for a split second... A far more creepier, more intense and nastier show is the 80's moderate budget movie The Hitcher with Rutger Hauer and C Thomas Howell. Don't get Punk'd on this. There ain't no Kutcher involved and thusly it ain't much fun.
on May 27, 2004
Director: James Mangold
Cast: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Alfred Molina, Clea Duvall.
Running Time: 90 minutes.
Rated R for violence, gore, and language.
One of the most bizarre thrillers to ever hit the screen, "Identity" attempts to pull off a "Sixth Sense" style finale, but fails miserably with a disjointed, confusing story that is well-made and well-acted, but ultimately fails to follow logic. It is a film that jumps into action extremely quick, with a family fixing a flat tire in the middle of the pouring rain on a deserted highway. Ex-cop turned limousine driver John Cusack accidentally hits the mother of the family while she was attempting to help her husband with the fix-up, but they cannot drive to the hospital for medical attention due to the horrific weather. They find a place to stay and tend to the woman's wounds in a ratty, old Bates-like motel.
In all, ten strangers find themselves at the mysterious motel fighting for their lives against an unknown killer that is walking the premises. They are many twists and turns, points fingered at numerous killers, and so many strange occurrences in the last ten or 15 minutes of the film that is it hard to distinguish exactly what is the truth and what is not real. Cusack and Liotta give suitable performances in the lead roles, but certainly nothing spectacular-the rest of the cast is not given much of a personality, mainly used as cookie cutter characters that the audience does not give a flip about if they are slaughtered. "Identity" is a nice attempt at trying to bring some psychosis/schizophrenia terror to the suspense genre, but director Mangold seems more focused on making scary scenes with lightning and down-pouring rain that creating a film that is halfway understandable. Some of the DVD extras are slightly useful, although the extended version is basically the same motion picture. A thriller that had promise, but it does not succeed in establishing exactly what kind of movie it wants to be, loosing its own identity in the process.
on April 19, 2004
Ever since The Sixth Sense there has been a bizarre desire in Hollywood to make an attempt at some sort of twist ending in every film. Sometimes the twist can work out quite well, like in the Others, but other times the twist ending is so moronic and insulting it ruins the previous good parts of the movie. Well guess what happens here? Another awful plot twist.
The movie, until the twist, is a somewhat suspenseful and creepy reinvention of the slasher genre. Even so, it still falls for all of the old clichés (there always has to be a hooker in these films for some reason) and you could time an oven by the rate at which characters are killed (one every nine minutes) This is easy to overlook as surreal coincidences and events seem to be foreshadowing that some sort of supernatural power is somehow involved in the killings.
Then the plot twist happens. Not only is everything that happens in the movie meaningless, but every character turns out to be imaginary. That's right, the big twist is that the whole movie is a battle between multiple personalities in some fat guy's head. I had no idea the subconscious of a crazy person was so rainy.
on March 16, 2004
I find most of the reviews here genuine and I respect others opinions. I don't agree with that particular reviewer ( about a page back ) who claim others who do not like this movie aren't " intelligent enough " to understand it. People have their own minds and opinions. No one has the right to belittle someone because they don't like a film. I paid attention to all the reviews and found each one helpful ( except the one I mentioned above ). Intelligence is the least of it. People can hate a film like this and it does not mean they can't understand it. You dislike a film because you DO understand it. Identity was a waste of time for me. I love John Cusack but I found the film boring and slow. I could tell what was going to happen the minute I began watching. The plot is very predictable but to each's own. My review comes from the heart. I respect people who liked the film and who didn't as long as it was an honest and fair review. Give the film a try if you haven't seen it. You may like it. Some do, some didn't. But don't knock someone else's intelligence just because they don't agree with your taste. That's why the world is different.
on February 26, 2004
A tip to filmmakers for future reference: don't pull wool over the audience's eyes unless you've got something really good to show them when you pull it off again. Identity tries its best: it jumps through all the familiar slasher genre hoops (rainswept motel, escaped murderer, mismatched bunch of strangers dropping like flies the minute they're left alone) before attempting a multiple backflip-into-somersault manouevre two thirds of the way in. "Mulholland Drive, Mulholland Drive," it whispers to itself as a confidence-booster, only to lose its footing, stumble wildly and fall flat. On. Its. Face.
The problem is that Identity isn't nearly as smart as it so desperately wants to be - its ace card is certainly unexpected, but it's a plot volte face that adds nothing to the proceedings beyond turning them on their head. It's not particularly clever, either - certainly not enough to redeem the rest of the movie (which is, for the record, watchable without being in the slightest bit memorable). Had the makers of Identity given the psychological wig-out aspect of their movie a little more thought, they might have ended-up with a minor classic on their hands. Had they made the slasher element a bit less predictable, they could have gotten away with eschewing the hallowed twist altogether. As it is, they've left us with a depressing hotch-potch, a whole that's nothing more than the sum of its parts.
on January 18, 2004
This is really a mess. One wonders how such movies get made. James Mangold, who was off to such fine start in his directorial career with the critically acclaimed Heavy (1995) and the superior psychodrama Girl, Interrupted (1999), and even the slightly offbeat but intriguing Cop Land (1997), really loses it here with this bizarro attempt at something like Psycho and David and Lisa meet Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians."
The premise is ridiculous and the resolution just plain silly. Without revealing anything (the denouement of the obtuse plot being perhaps the only thing that might keep the thumb of most intelligent viewers over the age of, say, fourteen, off the stop button) let me say that when it's over you just might feel cheated.
John Cusack stars as an ex-cop, now a chauffeur, who can suture wounds. The scene is the Nevada/California desert during a savage downpour that traps ten (+1) people at an isolated motel where bloody mayhem of the most inexplicable sort ensues as one by one the guests turn up dead. The action consists of wet people screaming and staring with horror at such sights as a dead man with a baseball bat shoved three-quarters of the way down his throat, etc. They insult each other a lot. Prostitutes don't like cops; little guys who never got any, hate prostitutes, and the little boy doesn't really love his mommy, etc. As the coincidences pile up (as the motel proprietor remarked, with the odds against being "trillions to one") we begin to realize that either something supernatural is going on or... You guessed it. It's all a....
But I can't say. We do get a hint of how everything will turn out when Mangold flash-forwards to a group of shrinks and other interested parties who are holding a kind of seance around what seems to be John Cusack's character.
Anyway, even the acting is not that good with the usually very fine Cusack seemingly infected by the deficiencies of the other players, or the stupidities of the script, or the impatient-to-get-it-over-with direction by Mangold. (I don't think the actors wanted too many takes in all that water, and it shows.) At any rate if you want to see a little kid and some mediocre actors overact or a lot of people deadpan the horror their eyes spy while barking at each other or you just like seeing Hollywood players have to make a living while wet, go for it. Otherwise, hit the off button and watch reruns of "That 70's Show."
on October 12, 2003
"Identity" is definitely no "Psycho" - not even close, although it does have the motel and psychopathic killer(s). There is more missing in this film than Alfred Hitchcock's brilliance. I had great expectations, especially after the movie's excellent beginning. Creepy opening shots of a criminal mug shot, bizarre childlike drawings, photographs of female murder victims, with voice-overs of a psychiatrist interviewing a very disturbed person, backed by eerie music and a very strange poem, all seemed promising.
Then...on a stormy night in the Nevada desert a group of people, stranded by the flooded highway and surrounding roads, converge on a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. (sound familiar?) There's Ed (John Cusack), an ex-cop turned limo driver from LA, and his has-been actress passenger (Rebecca DeMornay); a Mom, Pop and kid who have much more than road problems; a gorgeous hooker; a recently married couple; a very sinister motel owner; and a cop, (Ray Liotta), accompanying a dangerous convict in chains. My initial feeling that the film was doomed was when I noticed that the convict was a cross between Freddy Krueger and Frankenstein. He is ugly, yes, but too funny looking to be really scary. Then I noticed that 3 of the 4 women were all stunning, sexy, wore miniskirts and showed lots of clevage...more credibility lost. I may sound picky, but if the film is really scary, then one doesn't notice these things.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, the murders begin, and just like in the film "And Then There Were None," the motel guests are knocked off one by one, in descending order of their room numbers, with their keys placed next to the bodies. It soon becomes clear that every possible suspect is being eliminated. So, who is the murderer?? This is when a major plot twist kicks in, but even with the new turn of events the film does not become more credible, nor do the characters.
The plot is hackneyed, even with the 21st century rewrite and surprise ending - most of this has been done before, many times. The dialogue is inane, peppered with four-letter words, although there are a few quips by the motel owner that are kind of funny. He is asked to guard the convict who has just been recaptured after a very violent escape. He says, "I don't know if I feel comfortable with guard duty, per se." That's as good as it gets. The characters are flat - absolutely no depth. Now some may say there's a reason for this, and there may be. However one still has to sit through an entire film watching cardboard characters running aimlessly around in the pouring rain, mouthing inane dialogue - just to see an unusual ending. This does not make for an entertaining film.
The premise is good. But good premises do not always make good movies. This one's a loser. You may get a few scares during the film's run time, but you might leave the theater feeling unsatisfied. I sure did.
on September 11, 2003
Both the story and the director's style of telling it grab you from the start. It reminded me of "Memento" (which I greatly admire) for the first few scenes in the way that it seemed to be progressing backwards, but then it settled into a more conventional narrative. The lead characters are drawn well enough that I was invested in their stories; I was especially sympathetic to John Cusack's character. It's classic murder mystery fair with a twist. Ten strangers find themselves stranded by a storm in a creepy motel. One of them is a cop who's transporting a psychopathic killer. Another is a man desperate to get his seriously injured wife to a hospital, but the roads are flooded and the phones are down. When one by one they start turning up dead, it's a game of wits between the viewer and the screenwriter to figure out who's doing it. Obviously, all is not as it seems. But when the true nature of the characters was revealed, I felt cheated, bamboozled, duped and angry. I wanted to fire off a nasty letter to the director and the writer; instead, I'm writing this review. The much ballyhooed double twist at the end is not of "The Sixth Sense" variety; the kind of jaw dropping revelation that makes you go, "whooooa". No, this ending pulled the rug out from under all of the caring and compassion I had invested in the characters. When the end credits rolled, I hit the stop button in disgust. Without revealing the ending, I can't go into justifying my reaction and I know lots of people disagree from all of the positive reviews I've read. I guess this is one of those love it or hate it kind of films that you should definitely rent before you buy to see which category you fall into.
on September 3, 2003
I *COULD* go on about how this movie annoyed me. I *COULD* complain how increasingly fed up I was with being so far ahead of this movie, that it almost never caught up. I could talk about how Pruitt Taylor Vince looks so much like former MTV host Matt Pinfield, I was nearly doubled over with laughter whenever he was in the picture. And oh, how I *COULD* go on about what has to be THE most convoluted plot outside of Donald Kaufman's "The 3" from "Adaptation" (Seriously. That's all I kept thinking about watching it). But I WILL ask- where is the "alternate ending" advertised on the disc supplementals? I watched the extended version all the way through, then cut back to the theatrical cut to see the difference about 10 minutes from the end, but they were EXACTLY the same! I watched all the deleted scenes, but they were just extended scenes from the movie, nothing effecting the outcome. I guess part of me wants to believe that somewhere, somehow there's another part of the movie that would let me forgive all the things that drove me nuts about wasting my time with this movie. But it's just not meant to be. Oh yeah, and John Cusack is the only guy actually acting not just performing here(Or gads-mouthing all her lines at top volume like Clea Duvall), but I still say it's only barely worth a rent if you're easily surprised or thrilled. PU!
on May 5, 2004
This film had a lot of hype going for it. So when I actually saw the film I was very dissapointed. Now it'snot as bad as all that, but it's just another hollwood piece of tripe, thrown together very quickly in order to make an extra buck.
John Cusack is excellent in it, which is very surprising since he had to get his tongue twisted around an awful script.
Never the less, I did enjoy it for a while, but the end was simply crap. It was one of those annoying endings that could be the ending to any film ever made. Which is very annoying because it just felt like whoever wrote couldn't think of an ending so he just pulled this one out.
Rubbish ending. Not particurlarly engaging. If you want to see a really good film, that's set in a motel on the road, then just watch Psycho.
Alfred Hitchcocks Psycho that is, not that crap re-make.