Identity is the latest film from director James Mangold.
You might remember him from such films as Cop Land, Girl
Interrupted, and Kate & Leopold. But what is the thread
that ties his body of work together? In Cop Land, Sylvester
Stallone gave a well-received performance as a deaf sheriff. In
Girl Interrupted, Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder played inmates at
a mental hospital. And in Kate & Leopold, 19th century
hunk-boy Hugh Jackman traveled through time near the Brooklyn
Bridge to date chick-flick regular Meg Ryan. What do
these films have in common? There must be something...
Ah yes...craziness is the theme. Girl Interrupted
features women in a nut house (or perhaps more appropriately, "booby
hatch"). Cop Land features a cop who stands up to corrupt
cops, and that's crazy. And, Robert DeNiro and Ray Liotta also
star, and they are often cast as crazies. Furthermore, Sylvester
Stallone was given a serious role (with precious little ass-whipping
potential) and that's just crazy. And finally, Kate & Leopold,
a movie about a time traveling love affair between two people separated
by centuries, well...if you wanted to see that, you must've been crazy.
And crazy is the name of the game in Identity. It's a
crazy ride that's somewhere between a teeny-bopper slasher flick and a
People who like to try to figure out what's going on and who did what
to who will have some fun watching this film. While the Masked
Reviewer thought the two big surprise revelations were rather predictable
in their predictability, the movie was entertaining all of the way through.
Horror fans might also enjoy this film as it does a better job than most
traditional horror films at building suspense.
However, it does fall back to the classic "what's that? Oh, nothing I guess.
BOOM (loud scary noise)" routine more than a few times. Some of the
gruesome deaths in the movie are enjoyably unpredictable, though there's
nothing that's never been done before. At least, never been done
before in a movie.
What separates Identity from just another horror film is that
the underlying story is much more interesting than "a bunch of stranded
people get killed off by a monster." However, it might be a bit
much for some people to follow (especially if they're covering their
eyes during the scary parts). The filmmaker tries to keep people
guessing, but everything does make sense in the end.
Another thing that separates Identity from average horror
flicks is the quality of the acting. It's good! John Cusack
carries most of the film, but Ray Liotta, John C. McGinley, John Hawkes,
and a fully clothed Amanda Peet all give fine performances. Jake
Busey and Rebecca De Mornay are good too. How often do you get to
see that sentence?
Alfred Molina, the versatile British actor who played "Satipo" in
Raiders of the Lost Ark, plays a psychiatrist in this film (you
remember him in Raiders of the Lost Ark...in the beginning.
"Throw me the idol, I throw you the whip"). He's also been
in such films as Anna Karenina, Magnloia, Boogie Nights, Maverick,
Species, Texas Rangers, Frida, Chocolat, and Dudley Do-Right. He's
also scheduled to appear in Spider Man 2, so that's sure to be a big
hit. He's certainly not going to be pigeon-holed in his career.
The Masked Reviewer doesn't know if his choice of roles is conscious
eccentricity, or the result of a manager who can't get enough crack.
Alfred Molina isn't featured much at all in Identity, but he
always manages to be good in whatever he's in. Until somebody
starts an Alfred Molina Film Festival, it's up to all of us to be aware
of how good he is. He's kind of like a British Tony Shalhoub.
This film is like Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians"
mixed with Friday the 13th.
There's also a bit of Sixth Sense thrown in, in the form of the
big secret surprise ending. And what is it? The Masked
Reviewer won't reveal Identity's secret, any more than he'd
reveal his own secret identity. Okay, so that's lame, sue me.
Expectation from the Title: Not sure, but anything with "tity"
in the title can't be all bad.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
John Cusack looks like a very pleasant man who never uses bad language.
The Pros: It's a nice mix of mystery and horror, a fun couple
of hours. Some good suspenseful scenes.
The Cons: The surprises aren't as shocking as they could
have been. No nudity.