Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

It was a dark and stormy night...
A hooker escaping her past...
An ex-cop chauffeuring an actress...
A family...
Two too-young newlyweds with issues...
A prisoner and escort...
A road accident...
A flooded road, no, two flooded roads...

All our protagonists end up seeking refuge in a run down motel with a clerk who would make Norman Bates seem relatively sane. Meanwhile a judge, assorted attorneys and a psychiatrist (Alfred Molina) gather to adjudicate a last appeal from a death row psychotic (Pruitt Taylor Vince - he of the twitchy eyes).

Copy picture

Within minutes of their arrival something sinister is clunking away in the tumble dryer... the ex-cop (John Cusack) gets suspicious, the prisoner (Jake Busey) escapes, his captor (Ray Liotta) begins the hunt. Our young couple (Clea DuVall and William Lee Scott) argues, the motel clerk (John Hawkes) begins a tirade against the hooker (Amanda Peet). Tensions mount.

Another death...

The "Hollywood pitch" for this one seems to be Scream meets The Usual Suspects, or perhaps Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians which is mentioned by a cast member at some point. This is a film that goes out of its way to make you jump and provides many novel twists into the bargain. Scary it is, several of my fellow audience members were covering their eyes and given to uttering surprised exclamations along the way.

A uniformly good big-name cast adds credence to the proceedings, and also serves to confuse the movie savvy, after all isn't it just too obvious from the cast who the killer is? Nah, that's too easy so it must be the least obvious guy and so it must be... but then again...

There are those of you who will spot the BIG twist and what it means, and if you are really on the ball you'll twig the killer. The twist, while different, which is to be admired, I found somewhat irritating and somewhat undermined the last few shocks.

Director James Mangold (Kate and Leopold, Girl, Interrupted), has crafted an efficient small-scale thriller, that doesn't outstay its welcome. Will be much better with an audience, but you may not feel it was quite worth your (insert movie ticket price). Add a star if you dig John Cusack.

Reviewed on: 15 Dec 2006
Share this with others on...
Identity packshot
A bunch of strangers who seek refuge in a run-down motel find themselves the target of a killer.
Amazon link

Read more Identity reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray ****
Jennie Kermode *

Director: James Mangold

Writer: Michael Cooney

Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, John Hawkes, Clea DuVall, Rebecca DeMornay, John C McGinley, William Lee Scott, Jake Busey, Pruitt Taylor Vince

Year: 2003

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database: