Studio: Columbia TriStar
90 minutes Theatrical
92 minutes Extended
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Languages: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, 2.0 Surround French
Subtitles: English, French
Release Date: September 02, 2003.
One thing for sure in life is that ‘one thing leads to another’. It always happens despite how you might not think of it. Actions of others will determine the events of your own day. But how does one explain coincidences? They don’t happen as often, but what if the actions of everyone forced a group of people at once who share the same secret? Wouldn’t that be odd…or is it not? Identity takes us on a trek throughout a day in the lives of eleven people for the opening scenes of the film. With snappy camera work and editing, we see in an interesting way how these characters wind up at the same motel in the middle of nowhere.
It’s quite a diverse bunch too: a snotty actress and her car driver (Rebecca DeMornay and John Cusack), a former call girl from Las Vegas (Amanda Peet), a cop (Ray Liotta) and his prisoner. Also in the mix are a frantic husband, his wife, and spooky step-child, two newlyweds that reminded me of a vulgar version of the film “Just Married”, and the motel owner who can’t seem to keep his fingers out of purses. They all take refuge in the motel from the stormy weather, as there is no way out by road because both ends are flooded and telephone service does not work. Trapped in this motel the horror begins - let the bodies hit the floor…
Death is walking among them all, each wishing they were never caught at this motel. You may wonder how are these people connected to the serial killer? In addition to that - who is s/he? I can think of a few films that play the guessing game similar to this. Most of them I walk away from it unsatisfied because of the unbelievably ridiculous remaining chain of events. Identity shares the twist in the story like those other films that is unveiled at the end of the film, but a twist that I can believe. The twist really isn’t kept secret so if you are good and observant to the film you can catch on faster than most people. I don’t want to give anything away because it just wouldn’t be fair, but I can say I walked away from the ending feeling satisfied. Identity isn’t perfect, but what is perfect in most genres? I can’t refute this cool movie.
VIDEO QUALITY /
This disc has both an anamorphically enhanced 2.39:1 version and a 4:3 version (with the latter not reviewed - who really wants to see that butchery?) The image has excellent depth and detail. Black level is deep and shadow detail is excellent in this sometimes occasionally dark film. Colours have vibrancy when contrasted to black and never appear over-saturated. I didn’t notice any distracting artefacts like film grain or mastering problems. This is a pleasing looking film and a good job done by Columbia TriStar.
AUDIO QUALITY /
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is a wonderful effort by the sound design team to transport the listener into the middle of a stormy night. Rain can be heard all around at all times, and the thunder adds to the suspense of most scenes. This is a soundtrack where all speakers are active with wide dynamic range, thus the use of full range surrounds is recommended. Bass is present through the LFE and the main channels, although used sparingly in the surrounds. The only disappointment I found with this soundtrack was that the thunder sounded too manufactured. Despite it being perfectly mixed in the environment created, I couldn’t help to think I was hearing a foley artist shaking a long and wide, thin metal sheet to make that wobbly sound. I also wished the sound of rain had slightly better presence in the surrounds as I felt it was restricted in dimension in order to limit an overwhelming feeling of being rained on for 90 minutes. There is an eerie music score that will send shivers up your spine and has excellent fidelity. It is perfectly balanced in with the sound effects. Dialogue sounds very natural, although at times is accompanied with high frequency noise due to the original recording.
We are blessed with two versions of this film. Via seamless branching, Columbia TriStar offers both the theatrical version and an extended cut of this film. The extended cut features an extra scene and an alternate ending. I chose to watch the extended cut of this film for my first viewing. I don’t know what the extra scene is over the theatrical cut, although I have compared the alternate ending. I’ll let you have the pleasure to see where the differences are!
This disc also comes with a very interesting director’s commentary from James Mangold. He is good at drawing your attention to his words making the commentary an effortless 90 minutes compared to some of the other boring commentaries I have heard.
We are also treated to some deleted scenes totalling about 4 min total. They are presented in anamorphic widescreen and you can view them with or without director’s commentary. These scenes are short and cutting them helped quicken the pace of the film, even though I don’t believe these scenes would have slowed down the movie. To help you understand where they are placed in the film, the section before and after the cut are in black and white while the deleted scenes is in colour.
An approximately 15 minute featurette features talent interviews and ‘live on the set’ clips watching the actors interact with each other and the director.
Also provided is the theatrical trailer and a storyboard to film comparisons, both presented in anamorphic widescreen. I really enjoyed the comparison to see the beginning ‘vision’ of storyboards compared to the final resulting film. The storyboard is at the top of your screen and the film is at the bottom. As the scenes from the film progress, so do the storyboards. Very cool!
With such an excellent transfer for both our audible and visual senses, an awesome cast, and a cool story for the pure sense of watching the movie, (c’mon! we don’t just watch DVDs for sound and picture quality!) Identity is a must see to twist your senses and your mind. It is about time we get some good thrillers back into mainstream films! Identity will make you bleed for more.