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John Cusack, Ray Liotta

Directed by James Mangold
Rated R
for strong violence and language

3/4 out of Stars, Movie Grade: B
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Theatrical Release: April 25, 2003
Running time: 87 minutes

by Kevin Lang

In the promos for director James Mangold's new film "Identity,"starring John Cusack and Ray Liotta, one of the taglines was "Identity is a mystery." This may best sum up the movie itself, which focused on ten strangers stranded at a remote motel during a heavy rainstorm. The mystery arose as the audience had to figure out which of these strangers was killing the others one by one. The horror scenes were gruesome and well done, but the film's twist ending seemed to be a creative copout that betrayed its own unraveling mystery.

In a sense, the film tried to be more than it needed to be. I wanted the conclusion to reveal the clues behind who the killer really was. I paid attention to the hints throughout, and I spent most of the movie trying to figure out the culprit. Instead of revealing a killer, the ending, although interesting, detached me from the characters, and it made the story's plot developments seem less significant. It also made the time that I had spent trying to deduce who the killer was seem almost useless.

"Identity" could have been a simpler and more effective film. It did do a good job leading the audience astray as to who the real killer actually was, and it even introduced a new motive and different suspect for nearly every murder. However, the film's ending abandoned simplicity in an attempt to reach a higher plain of intelligence for itself, a plain that it was barely able to hang on to. I'm stunned that I'm saying this, but with regards to the conclusion, Michael Clooney's script would have worked better if it had been less creative.

In the end, if you're looking for an enjoyable suspense-filled movie going experience, "Identity" will not necessarily disappoint you. Engaging relationships developed between the characters, and intense scenes of horror surrounded their deaths. These shocking scenes included people getting mangled by oncoming vehicles and the discovery of something that I hope that I never find tumbling in my dryer. The film as a whole, however, did not leave me completely satisfied.

"Identity" Review written April 24, 2003, CTF.

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"Identity" DVD

Identity dvd

DVD Features:

* Commentary by director James Mangold
* Theatrical trailer(s)
* Exclusive branched version of film with alternative ending and additional scene
* Deleted scenes with director's commentary
* Storyboard comparisons
* STARZ special: On the Set of Identity
* Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats


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