The first hour of Identity is enjoyable enough. Ten people who, we learn later, have the same birthday find themselves stranded at a desolate motel on a dark and stormy night, and before you can say And Then There Were None they begin to be picked off, one by one. The cast includes such bona fide actors as John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Rebecca DeMornay and Amanda Peet, so half the fun is guessing who'll go next, based on star billing. The other half is just good old whodunit and whodunwhat stuff. Director James Mangold doesn't bring much style to the material, but he keeps it all moving forward. And those with pacemakers (plus scaredy-cats like myself) will be glad to know that he doesn't dwell too much on the murders.
Then, a little over halfway through, the plot twists in such a way as to almost break the movie's back. Some will call it a stroke of genius. Others will call it a cop-out (an Identity crisis). Personally, I considered it the final ' well, not quite final ' act of gamesmanship in a movie that's more murder mystery than slasher film. Scriptwriter Michael Cooney spreads clues like confetti, and everybody's a suspect right up until the moment he or she bites the big one. Consequently, we don't have much of an emotional investment in anybody. But why should we? Watching a movie like Identity is like working your way through a box of Milk Duds. One after another, they offer themselves. And then there are none.