Home » Movie Reviews

Identity (2003)

1 May 2003 by JR No Comment


2003, dir. James Mangold

90 min. Rated R.
Starring: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Ray Liotta, Alred Molina.

Review by J.R.

The two stars of the murder-thriller Identity are rain and a plot twist, with rain getting the most screen time. Amanda Peet’s hiphuggers co-star.

Identity is the story of a group of strangers stranded one night in a dilapidated motel during a downpour. Death ensues. There is yelling, running, and the shining of flashlights. There is “Let’s split up!” and “Nobody’s leaving this room!” There is a head in the dryer.


John Cusack is an ex-cop/limo driver. Ray Liotta is a cop transporting a criminal. Amanda Peet is the Hooker With A Heart Of Gold™. Rebecca De Mornay plays the head in the dryer. There are other characters, many others, and it’s not that you can’t keep them straight, it’s that you don’t care. And they die anyway.

Sort of.

It’s difficult to talk about Identity without talking about the plot twist. The first half of the film feels like horror movie convention done for the sake of horror movie convention. It’s like Scooby-Doo without the ascot and the lesbian. After the twist reveals itself, you understand why it felt that way. However, the plot twist itself grows from horror movie convention as well. Once the initial “Oh, ok” wears off, you’re no longer watching the movie you started watching. You’re watching one worse. You hope the twist will make the first half cooler, when in fact it makes it lamer.


And on top of all that, they never give the requisite Amanda Peet-it’s-raining-wet-shirt-nipple-shot. It’s criminal.

It’s not that the movie isn’t tense or, in spots, actually scary. The shadows forebode, the music crescendos, doors creak, and the car crash at the beginning made the guy next to me involuntarily shout “motherFUCKER”. One of my friends spent much of the movie watching it through his hands. But he watches Trading Spaces that way, so never mind.

Identity suffers from not having an identity. There are no great lines to remember, there is no nifty camera shot to talk about afterward. The movie stands entirely on the twisty-ness of the story. The story ain’t Odysseus, and the twisty-ness not being very twisty, what you’re left with is a ticket stub and maybe a spare Twizzler.


Identity makes you feel like your parents did when they caught you smoking pot in high school; not mad, just very, very disappointed.

J.R. is a bean counter by the day and superhero by night. His writing has appeared pretty much nowhere. He lives in East Atlanta.

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.

five − = 2