On the surface, Identity may appear as yet another brainless slasher film that we are all quickly growing tired of, if we have not already. Allow me to assure you that this is not the case. Identity, superbly directed by James Mangold, is sort of a cross between a top drawer slasher film and The Usual Suspects.
The story begins with a series of incidents that will eventually bring ten strangers (a limo driver, a has-been actress, a cop who is transporting a convict, a call girl, two newlyweds, and a family) together at a creepy desert motel. Shortly thereafter, one by one the guests begin dying at the mercy of what appears to be a serial killer. Things quickly spiral out of control as the survivors try to figure out which individual among them is the killer.
Writing reviews for movies like this is difficult, because it is so easy to give away key plot points. The heart of Identity is its incredible writing and direction. Mangold keeps the viewer pinned to their seat for the entire 110 minute runtime, and the viewer will spend most of the time trying to figure out who the killer is. The fine cast kicks everything up a notch, particularly John Cusack’s performance as the limo driver. Ray Liotta maintains his usual form of creepiness and mystery, and Amanda Peet is strong as the call girl.
I mentioned the film resembling The Usual Suspects above, and I say that because this film has several twists reminiscent of the one that started it all in The Usual Suspects. The final shocker is very unpredictable, which was a giant sigh of relief in that it occurred when the film could have completely caved in.
Identity never gives in to the predictable, which is what makes it a joy to watch. The general premise is not all that original, but the execution is. With a top notch cast, wonderful directing, and a great play on an old premise, Identity is “must see” entertainment. Highly recommended.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 110 Minutes
Rating: R for strong violence and language.
Theatrical Release: April 25, 2003
Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Michael Cooney
Cast: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall