Viewed on 06 Aug 03   'Well, what we got here is a failure to entertain,' if I can paraphrase Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke.  I'm talking, of course, about Director James Mangold and his the currently playing IDENTITY (2003).  We. the ticket-buying public were conned like so many Barnum & Bailey Circus suckers by the advertisements and movie trailers - we thought we were going to a real whodunit, a real mystery with a hint that something supernatural might be taking a hand.  Boy-o-boy, were we wrong.  I should take a moment to explain here, however, that I am talking about the expat viewers only, as NONE of the Thai movie patrons understood the film; most even gave up trying before half-way through.
IDENTITY starts on a secluded section of highway in the middle of a severe thunderstorm.  A traffic accident seriously injures one of the passengers of a car which has stopped to repair a flat tire.  The driver of the other vehicle takes the injured woman in his car to try to obtain help.  Finding the roads washed out, the only place he can take her is a roadside motel.  Other motorists, also trapped by the storm, arrive at the motel, and with each new arrival, the scene gets more tense.  Then the first of a series of grizzly murders is discovered.  Director Mangold then deftly waltzes us past several red-herrings, mysterious disappearances and eerie 'coincidences', building a fine murder mystery in the process.
Then without explanation, or rhyme or reason, IDENTITY concludes with one of those incredibly facile cop-out endings - on a par with a 1950's vintage sci-fi flick where the protagonist wakes up and finds it has all been a dream.  This of course is not what happens here, because Mangold cunningly finds a way to do it up even more stupidly.  My mother used to tell me, if I can't say something nice, don't say anything at all - well, in partial compensation, I suppose I could mention that the popcorn at the Emporium theater is tasty.
LEAST   Enduring Line or Phrase:  "... so I just checked them in, too."
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