Film Review: Identity, dir. James Mangold

Identity is a mix of Hitchcock’s Psycho, the Whodunnit murder mystery and bubble-gum teen flick horrors. 

As execution date looms for convicted mass-murderer Malcolm Rivers, only a last-minute appeal from psychiatrist Alfred Molina (previously of Poirot fame) can save him. Elsewhere ten strangers are stranded Cluedo-esque style in a savage rainstorm. They take shelter in a rundown ‘Bates Motel’ watched over by a nervous manager.  

James Mangold’s 1997 critically acclaimed Cop Land which is remembered for the impressive performance of Sylvester Stallone has never quite been matched by Mangold’s next films 'Girl Interrupted' and 'Kate and Leopold'. But, with Identity, we are promised a film which will put James Mangold back on top.

Identity’s narrative revolves around the whodunit mystery format of an unknown killer at large whilst ten characters are bumped off one by one, reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s ‘Ten Little Niggers’ which became ‘And Then There Were None’ or in this case ‘And Then There Were One’. Even those identified as the main protagonists are not safe. 

Claustrophobic atmosphere is heightened by the flooded road, the pitch darkness of the night and the never-ending rainstorm. 

However, all of the characters are ridiculous one-dimensional stereotypes. John Cusack and Ray Liotta are impeccable as they both dominate the screen, making up for any discrepancies in plot-line, but they give the impression of playing it for the money.

On the whole, this is an entertaining, and fun film, but people will leave the cinema feeling cheated by the improbable ending. 

'Identity' is on US nationwide release, 25th April 2003