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Malcolm Rivers awaits execution for several vicious murders that took place at an apartment building. His psychiatrist, Dr. Mallick, has discovered his journal that may explain why he committed the murders. With this late evidence brought forth, a new hearing takes place. 10 strangers find thems...
As much as I love John Cusack, there is almost nothing more unforgivable than a cheesy, whodunnit thriller with a “twist” ending. 'Identity' watches like a quintessential thriller riding the wave of the cliched films of the 90s. It literally has every cliché of the genre: a twist ending, twist endings, and plot holes galore.
The problem I had with this movie wasn't the cast or the acting; in fact, the cast was chock fill of a-listers at the time: Ray Liotta, John Cusack, and Amanda Peet are among them, acting their asses off in spite of the script. Also, casting Jake Busey (or any of the Buseys, for that matter) was perfect for the role of a psychotic murder, even if he ended up with a baseball bat rammed down his throat.
As for the scare factor of 'Identity', the plot was horribly predictable, resting all of its scariness on cheap jump scares, segueing choppily into a poorly-timed scream or other cacophony of noise. While I understand that it's not a horror movie, it should at least give off the impression that it was trying to present an overarching element of suspense. It would have done this in spite of the cheap scares, but it was the script that really brought it down. Not only was the oh-so-predictable ending abrupt and lacked depth, the pacing of the plot, specifically the big psycho reveal, was just not conducive to an easy-to-follow movie.
Spoiler alert: revealing the fact that everything is in one man's head should come at the very end of the narrative. Putting it in with half an hour left of the film just confused me. It completely obliterated any semblance of sympathy for the other characters, which was hard-won at even that point.
All in all, 'Identity' was hard to follow, cliched, and predictable. If you want a real thriller, I would suggest looking elsewhere, avoiding the name James Mangold in your search. Despite several excellent films like 'Girl, Interrupted and 'Walk the Line', Mangold should definitely leave it up to the pros.