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    It was a dark and stormy night...
 
    A group of disparate travelers find themselves stranded at a remote desert motel; a middle-class couple and their small child, a movie actress and her chauffeur, a police officer and his prisoner, a pair of young newlyweds, a prostitute, and Larry, who runs the place.  At first, this appears to be only coincidence, an example of 'any port in a storm', but soon the forces of nature conspire to rule that out.  In other words, that's when the killings begin.
   
    Identity is an old fashioned, intelligent nail-biter with a few new twists.  It has an 'O.S.' factor that tops the scale.  What is the 'O.S.' factor?  Okay, I'll explain.  It has to do with, when watching a scary movie or thriller, how many times you think to yourself, 'Oh, Sh*t!'   Get it?  I originally used the 'O.S.' factor to rate episodes of The X-Files.  In fact, Identity plays much like a really good X-Files or Twilight Zone... scary as hell, but light on the gory details.  Never underestimate the power of pure suspense! 
   
    On the directing front, James Mangold succeeds in giving Identity the feel of a classic murder mystery, complete with an homage to Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None'.  In addition, the pace is surprisingly brisk, no small feat for a film which relies more on its characters than it does on action or visual effects!
 
    As for the stars, sharing top billing are Ray Liotta and John Cusack.  Now, this by itself should be a clue that something special is going on here!  Sure, Liotta alone is hit and miss, but any movie with Cusack's stamp of approval is always worth a look.  In Identity, the combination of these two actors is absolute dynamite!  The volatile intensity of Liotta's personality contrasts brilliantly with Cusack's contemplative good naturedness.  If you think that sounds like type-casting, well, you would be right.  Liotta and Cusack are type-cast, type-cast perfectly!
   
    I must also mention the end of this movie.  Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you!  Let me just say that you may or may not be pleased, depending on your view toward the 'science' of psycho-therapy.  Okay, 'nuf said about that!
   
    So, you want to be scared out of your wits, but don't feel like getting grossed-out or bombarded by visual effects?  You like movies that keep you guessing?  And you still don't know what movie to see?  No mystery there!  You should see Identity!
Directed By:  James Mangold
Written By:  Michael Cooney
Starring:   John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall,
Rebecca De Mornay, John C. McGinley, John Hawkes, William Lee Scott,
Jake Busey,Pruitt Taylor Vince, Terence Bernie Hines, Leila Kenzle, Bret Loehr
MPAA: Rated R for strong violence and language

Identity
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A.J.'s Rating:  4 Suspenseful Stars
Review published
April 30, 2003