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The Masked Reviewer

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 classic whodunit. 

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 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.

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