Thursday, January 22, 2015

Film Review: Identity (2003)

Identity (Review)
United States/2003
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...offers more than enough mystery, suspense, and atmosphere to be one of my favorites."

While convicted serial killer Malcolm Rivers receives a final hearing for his crimes, a group of strangers are stranded in a secluded motel on a stormy night.

Identity features a very interesting and engaging narrative. So, while Malcolm Rivers receives his second hearing thanks to his uncovered journals, this group finds themselves stranded in a motel. This group includes limo driver Ed Dakota (John Cusack) and his celebrity client; Officer Rhodes (Ray Liotta) and the prisoner he's transporting; a prostitute named Paris; a young newlywed couple; a family of three; and Larry, the motel owner. As they are settling in, they start suffering from violent deaths. Only a room key with a number counting down from 10 connects the vicious murders. It all leads to a great ending.

Identity is a film that works as a "the less you know, the better" type of film. You may know what's going on by the middle of the film, but its twisted presentation is wonderful until the very end. It's really not worth spoiling for those who will be experiencing the film for the first time. So, without spoilers, Identity is a superb film. It has an ominous atmosphere -- the stormy night and isolated motel setting is fantastic. It has many moments of suspense and tension. It also has a meticulously-crafted mystery. This film didn't lose me for a second, I was keeping track of every hint -- I was glued to the screen from beginning to end. There are a few scenes that might be considered contrived, but, in this case, it's arguably not a flaw. It's at least worth noting.

The acting is mostly great, too. I say "mostly" because John Cusack could have done better -- I've seen him do better. If you've read my reviews, you know I'm a fan of Ray Liotta, whether it's a Narc or The Place Beyond The Pines. Fortunately, Liotta delivers. The supporting cast is also strong. The film is shot well, I like the engaging camerawork. The music also helps in developing the atmosphere; however, the storm occasionally drowns out the music and even some of the dialogue, which can be an issue at times. Director James Mangold delivers a wonderful murder mystery with superb atmosphere and suspense. The direction is so tight and consistent, this film has little to no filler and such a ferocious pace -- it was over before I knew it.

Overall, Identity is a fantastic film. Although not without flaws, Identity offers more than enough mystery, suspense, and atmosphere to be one of my favorites. I've seen this film more than a dozen times by now, and I still love it -- it doesn't get old. It is definitely worth your time if you want something engaging and very fast paced. Don't skip it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and some gore.

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