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The ViewHamilton Review

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Review byMatthew Turner6/09/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Impressive, well-acted thriller that provides an enjoyable guessing game, though it’s best seen knowing as little about it as possible.

Director James Mangold’s previous films include CopLand, Girl Interrupted and Kate & Leopold, so to say that Identity is his best film so far isn’t really saying all that much.

However, it’s an enjoyable thriller that’s a lot of fun providing you don’t know too much about it going in. Naturally, the trailer gives entirely too much away so if you’ve seen it, you should try to forget it and if you haven’t, you should put your hands over your ears, shut your eyes and make ‘la la la la’ noises when it comes on.

Motel, Storm, Crazed Murderer…

The premise is extremely simple. On a dark and stormy night, a group of strangers (including movie star Rebecca DeMornay, chauffeur John Cusack, detective Ray Liotta and Tart With A Heart Amanda Peet) find themselves stranded at a Psycho-like motel, with the roads flooded and all the communication lines down.

Sure enough, it isn’t long before they’re being killed off, one by one. But is there a connection between them? Is one of them really a murderer? And did someone mention an Indian Burial Ground?

So far, so Agatha Christie, then, and the fun of the movie comes in trying to figure out why the characters are being killed off and who’s doing it. However, to label the film as JUST a whodunnit would be doing it a huge disservice, though to say anymore would be extremely unfair. Suffice it to say there are plenty of surprises along the way.

Top Work All Round

The actors are all excellent, particularly Cusack and Liotta (still on top form after Narc) – who work well together as the central duo vying to take charge of what’s happening to them all.

There’s also excellent support work from the likes of Clea DuVall, John C.McGinley, Amanda Peet (for whom household name status cannot be too far away) and John Hawkes (as the motel owner), who is surely destined for Cult Character Actor status of the Steve Buscemi variety.

The script is witty and inventive, throwing in lots of slasher movie in-jokes and having a lot of fun toying with its various clichés. It even includes some Meaningful Poetry (“As I was going to the fair, I met a man who wasn’t there”) just to keep you on your toes.

This is the sort of film where you’ll enjoy it more the longer it takes you to guess what’s going on. If you get sucked in by it, it’s an enjoyable, fun thriller, although you’re just as likely to feel like you’ve been taken for a ride. Take a chance, anyway. Recommended.

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Content updated: 17/10/2019 18:21

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