Reviews

Identity

3

Director James Mangold secured a job helming the much-fancied Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line, on the strength of this, a stormy noir variation on Agatha Christie pick-'em-off Ten Little Indians.

Driving a has-been studio diva through rain-lashed Nevada, John Cusack's taciturn chauffeur hits a dead end when torrential floods force them into a motel for an impromptu stop-off. Others soon join them: most notably, Amanda Peet's call girl, Ray Liotta's brusque cop and Jake Busey's shit-grin criminal. They're all connected, have something in common. And then the screaming starts...

Opening the account with a severed head merrily juggling around inside a tumble drier, Identity soon settles into a body-count-rising, tempers-flaring, don't-trust-anyone affair. And, just to make sure the momentum keeps rolling, the killer has a signature gimmick: each battered carcass comes with a motel room key. First 10, then nine, then eight... You get the idea.

So, who's the killer? And why are they killing? Good question. Good movie. As is the drill with these sort of things, it's the progressive build of tilts and corkscrews that intrigue, handled pretty skilfully by Mangold and his wired ensemble (Cusack befuddled; Liotta particularly fierce). Chances are the blindfold won't slip and you'll remain happily in the dark. Chances are you'll be slapping the nearest forehead over the prematurely ejaculated twist, and chances are the multiple plot pile-up blocking the movie's exit will feel tacked-on and unnecessary.

That said, it does a lot of things right - atmosphere, for one. Clever, too, that all the stylistic flourishes - - the clattering rain, the neon-frazzled Psycho-styled motel, the doomy, noirish lensing - - all count in the final scheme. Much like the superior but similarly coiled The Usual Suspects, you sense it may build up a bigger reputation on rentals, where the fastidious are free to rewind and hold a magnifying glass closer to the twists.

Film Details

  • 15
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: February 1st 2004

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