Monday, June 20, 2016

At the Corner of Coincidence and Conspiracy, or Thoughts on John Cusack in Identity

John Cusack has always been an interesting choice for a leading man.  He’s not conventionally attractive but he has an old-Hollywood charm, an essential amiability with some rough edges, like a sketchy Jimmy Stewart or a skinny Robert Mitchum.  He was perfectly suited for the post-noir psychological thriller Identity (2003), a classic Agatha Christie premise with a decidedly American spin, where 10 strangers spend the night in a lonely Bates Motel-esque motor inn on a dark and stormy night.
John Cusack is Ed, the mournful limo driver and ex-cop who is stuck with the usual crowd of movie randos; frantic parents with a creepy preternatural kid who doesn’t speak, Amanda Peet as Paris Nevada, the hooker with the heart of gold, Rebecca DeMornay as the spoiled movie star and Clea Duvall, as the troubled newlywed along with her douchebag husband.  Oh and let’s not forget Jake Busey as the psycho killer (quesque c'est) and Ray Liotta as the cop with a secret transporting him.
The first half of the movie is told in flashback, setting up the premise, introducing the characters and filling out the back-stories that led them to this motel in the middle of the Nevada desert.  As an audience familiar with this genre we have an inkling of what will happen next; Jake Busey will escape and kill them off one by one in interesting ways, and then John Cusack will save the day along with Clea Duvall and maybe Amanda Peet but she’ll probably die because you know, hooker.
We’ve seen this movie before, and that’s when the filmmakers make a hard left and take it in a completely different direction.  The twist is intriguing and polarizing; I found it disappointing given how much I enjoyed the first half, but the movie currently has a rating of 62% on Rotten Tomatoes so most of you guys liked it.  I will say the ending was completely original and unlike anything you’ve seen before, that is unless you happened to see Fight Club (1999) or Haute Tension (2003).

From director James Mangold of Girl, Interrupted (1999, which was supposed to be Winona Ryder’s comeback Oscar and instead kickstarted Angelina Jolie’s career) and the 3:10 to Yuma (2007) remake.  And watch out for Alfred “throw me the idol, I throw you the whip” Molina as the psychiatrist, (I bet you didn’t know made his screen debut in Raiders of The Lost Ark, 1981).


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.