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Identity
DVD disk
Oct 5, 2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Identity order
Director:
James Mangold

Actors:
John Cusack
Ray Liotta
Amanda Peet

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
During a brutal thunderstorm, ten strangers with nothing in common end up in a roadside motel. Sheltered from the rain, things seem to be settling down until one by one, they start dying. With nowhere to go and communications with the outside world gone, tempers mount and fingers get pointed.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Throw in a couple of the best Hollywood has to offer in Ray Liotta and John Cusack, one of its loveliest in Amanda Peet and a supporting cast that will blow most movies right out of the water and what do you get? You get a pretty good movie, but if you also toss in a real creepy location and a script that will get your juices flowing with its great dialogue and originality...you get a great one! IDENTITY is one of those rare films that will keep you on the edge of your seat, begging for more after it's done. In true Alfred Hitchcock fashion, every time you think you've got the answer, the film changes the question and leaves you shaking your head at the conclusion you thought you had reached. This intricate plotline, filled with dying people and changing suspects is a breath of fresh air and fortunately for us...a pretty eerie one as well.

Cusack and Liotta do a great job of anchoring this pic even though neither really strays too far away from characters they've played before. Cusack stars as a level-headed ex-cop with a heart of gold, stuck in this situation while trying to help someone he's hurt by accident and Liotta plays a gruff cop with a chip on his shoulder, stuck in the storm while transporting a dangerous criminal. They both do wonderful jobs of presenting two totally different characters trying to cope in their own way with the same situation. The delicious Peet stars as a quick-witted hooker named Paris who drops off the best line in the film while trying to get a snack from a candy machine. John C. McGinley, John Hawkes and Pruitt Taylor Vince stand out amongst the supporting actors.

Overall, credit for keeping the pace fast and tight has to go out to James Mangold who could easily have made a mess of Michael Cooney's twisted storyline. He keeps everyone in line and makes the best of a great set while keeping his cards close to his chest, revealing just enough to keep viewers interested, but not too much that the freight train will be seen coming a mile away. This is a movie to recommend to anyone who enjoys intense thrills without gore and seeing movies without being held by the hand.
THE EXTRAS
The DVD has an Extended Version of the film which contains one additional scene and a slightly altered ending, both of which can be found individually in the deleted scenes section which contains 4 of them, available with or without Mangold's commentary. The scenes are pretty decent, especially the one which refers entirely to Amanda Peet's breasts (!) Mangold also contributes a full-length director commentary track in which he discusses the film and its idea. It's a pretty standard track with mucho spoilers, so be careful if you haven't seen the film before listening to it.

A 15-minute featurette entitled Starz: On the Set is also included and it contains mainly little snippets of studio interviews with the stars, the director and his wife, the producer. Not really anything earth-shattering as I've come to expect with the studio mounted promotional fluff pieces. Mangold goes over some of the same stuff from his commentary and Liotta, Cusack and Peet chime in with their contractually obligated bits.

Aside from the standard Theatrical Trailer and star filmographies, a set of storyboard-to-film comparisons is also included with three scenes being looked at alongside the original storyboards.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Great movie with a decent DVD package merits great attention next time you make your shopping list. While the special features surely won't blow you away, the film is both entertaining, original, short and has great rewatch value despite the surprises and as a matter of fact, you can watch it again just to look for clues. The Surgeon prescribes a healthy dose of IDENTITY next time you're looking for a good time with your DVD player.
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