By Shawn McKenzie 04/25/2003
There are times when I watch one of those “twist-ending” movies and I am completely surprised. Other times, like while I was watching Identity, I wondered why I didn’t see the twist ending a million miles away.
The night before convicted mass murderer Malcolm Rivers (Pruitt Taylor Vince) is scheduled to be executed, his lawyer (Matt Letscher) and psychiatrist (Alfred Molina) persuade a judge to allow them to meet with him and discuss whether Rivers is mentally fit for execution. That same night, George York (John C. McGinley), his wife Alice (Leila Kenzle), and her son Timmy (Bret Loehr) have just pulled over to the side of the road after their tire has a blowout. While George is changing it in the pouring rain, limo driver and former cop Ed (John Cusack) accidentally hits Alice, who had been watching George change the tire. Ed had been driving a has-been TV actress named Caroline Suzanne (Rebecca DeMornay), and defies her wishes to flee the scene. The rain and location prevents them from using their cells, so they end up at a remote motel, where they meet the desk clerk, Larry (John Hawkes.) His phone is also not working because a hooker named Paris (Amanda Peet), who had earlier unintentionally caused the Yorks’ tire blowout with a spiked shoe that fell out of her car, accidentally hit the utility pole. Since the road is flooded in both directions, everyone is stuck at the motel. Stranded along the Yorks, Ed, Caroline, Paris, and Larry, are newlyweds Ginny (Clea DuVall) and Lou (William Lee Scott), and a cop named Rhodes (Ray Liotta), who is transporting another mass murderer named Robert Maine (Jake Busey.) Larry gives them all separate rooms in the motel while Ed desperately tries to get some help for Alice. Soon people start ending up dead in the reverse order of their room key numbers. Ed takes the leadership role, and along with Rhodes, tries to track down the killer before the rest of them are murdered.
As I said, I don’t know why I didn’t see the twist (or twists in this case; I counted about three of them.) There are several very loud clues given in the movie, none of which I can tell you about without ruining the movie. I bet the clues will be highlighted on a special feature on the DVD. I have to give kudos to director James Mangold and screenwriter Michael Cooney for creating an interesting series of plot turns that will leave you satisfied. The deaths themselves were standard horror faire, but the story surrounding it was fascinating. The way in which they told the story that brought all the characters together at the hotel was creative, and the end will make you think back on everything you had just seen earlier and wonder if you paid enough attention.
The acting wasn’t bad overall. I always love Cusack and McGinley. Peet and Liotta were decent. Fortunately, Molina had a small role, because I usually can’t stand him. Busey was the only one I had a problem with in the movie. Most of his roles tend to be comical (or he is the comic relief in a drama/action movie.) His portrayal of a psycho killer was just goofy here.
I definitely recommend checking out Identity, and you can see if you are fooled as easily as I was. Part of the fun though is not taking it too seriously and allowing the movie to fool you as well. If you guess the ending before it happens, you kind of waste your movie-going experience. Just see the movie and have fun.
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