Identity (2003)

What could possibly link 10 strangers sheltering from the storm? Or is it best not to find out?

A last-minute appeal against a death sentence gathers lawyers and judges together late at night. Crucial evidence has been withheld, evidence that could spare the life of the convicted man, Malcolm Rivers played by Pruitt Taylor Vince (Mississippi Burning, Jacob’s Ladder). The defense psychiatrist, played by Alfred Molina (Spider-man 2, The Da Vinci Code) argues that the condemned man can be rehabilitated and begs the assembled professionals for a chance.

Elsewhere at a seedy and run down Nevada motel, ten strangers are sheltering from the worst storm they’ve seen. One by one we’re introduced to the characters at the motel and how they came to be stranded. As we discover details about each character it becomes apparent that these people have never previously crossed paths and are completely unconnected, or so we think!

The characters at the motel soon discover that leaving the motel is impossible due to flooded roads, which have become impassable. Resigned, the group each check into rooms to wait out the storm. Through the backstories of these strangers, we learn who they are and how they’ve come to be stranded. With the ongoing medical emergency tensions in the group are high. As tragic and sinister events unfold at the motel, the race to save Rivers unfolds. Details of diaries are read out, diaries found in Rivers apartment. Do these diaries hold the secret to the murders he is awaiting execution for and is he innocent?

Meanwhile, at the motel, suspicion grips the strangers and as each event unfolds, the mystery deepens. Nobody can be trusted and nobody seems to be who they say they are or even who they claimed to be. Events and withheld details come to light that suggests that maybe the strangers are more connected than they thought as personal details are uncovered about each of the ten.

Two mysteries will have to be solved before time runs out for everybody in this gripping thriller. Viewers will continually be guessing about the action unfolding as the mystery deepens with each shocking twist. Each layer uncovers the terrifying truth as both stories are brought twisting together into a shocking and unexpected conclusion. The ending of this tale is as harrowing as it is brilliant. Viewers will be left stunned as the two stories simultaneously reach their cataclysmic finale.

While the subject material isn’t original, what brings originality is the way that the story is delivered. Tense action and suspenseful drama delivered expertly by Director, James Mangold (Girl Interrupted, Walk the Line) who combines lighting and elements into a beautifully tangible world in which the characters live.

While substantial credit should go to the writing and direction, the all-star cast, including John Cusack (High Fidelity, 1408), Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, Field of Dreams) and John C. McKinley (Scrubs, The Rock) which bring the story together and draw the viewer in. Combining elements from various genres of film, it is all expertly woven together into an unforgettable thrill ride. From start to finish this film keeps you entertained and keeps you guessing throughout the revelations and twists within.