REVIEW: IDENTITY

CAST
John Cusack (2012)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Amanda Peet (The Ex)
John Hawkes (Winters Bone)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Broden Chronicles)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Rebecca De Mornay (Jessica Jones)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
William Lee Scott (October Sky)
Jake Busey (Starship Troopers)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)
Leila Kenzle (Mad About You)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
A convict introduced as “Malcolm Rivers”—who was abandoned as a child at a motel by his prostitute mother—awaits execution for several vicious murders that took place at an apartment building. Malcolm’s psychiatrist, Dr. Mallick, has discovered his journal that may explain why he committed the murders. With this late evidence brought forth, a new hearing takes place.
Meanwhile, ten strangers find themselves stranded in the middle of a torrential rainstorm at a remote Nevada motel, run by Larry Washington. The group consists of an ex-cop, now limousine driver, Ed Dakota; Caroline Suzanne, an actress popular in the 1980s; Officer Rhodes, who is transporting serial killer Robert Maine; Paris Nevada, a prostitute; newlyweds Lou and Ginny Isiana; and the York family, George and Alice, and mute 9-year-old son Timmy. The Yorks are in crisis because Alice has been struck by Ed’s car. With both ends of the road completely flooded, the group prepares to spend the night. However, they quickly find there is an unknown murderer present, killing off each of the guests. Caroline is the first to be killed. Ed, finding her severed head in a clothes dryer, thinks Maine killed her. When they check the convict, they discover he has escaped.
All the others become worried, and Ginny flees in terror to her room. Her husband Lou chases after her but is also murdered. Maine runs through the hills, only to be dumbfounded when he finds himself back at the motel. He enters the diner, where Ed and Rhodes jump and beat him into unconsciousness, putting Larry on guard duty. However, Maine is later found dead. Paris discovers a dead body in Larry’s freezer, which is revealed to be the real hotel manager. Larry attempts to escape in his truck, claiming he did not kill anybody; he accidentally runs over George, killing him.
Each body is accompanied by a numbered room key, the order of which suggests a countdown. The survivors tie Larry up, and as he tells them his story the others start to believe he really did not kill anyone. Subsequently, Alice is discovered to have died from her injuries. Ginny and Timmy die when their car blows up, but their bodies are nowhere to be found. The remaining four discover that all the bodies have disappeared and that all ten share the same birthday; Ed realizes that all ten names are linked to US states (Caroline being the Carolinas, Lou Isiana being Louisiana, etc.). Paris discovers that Rhodes is actually a convict as well; he killed the corrections officer transporting him and Maine cross state and assumed the cop’s identity. Rhodes attempts to kill Paris, but she is saved by Larry, who hits Rhodes with a fire extinguisher, only to be shot and killed by him.
Back at the hearing, the contents of Malcolm’s journal are revealed, indicating Malcolm suffers from an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder, harboring ten distinct personalities. Mallick is able to bring forth one of Malcolm’s personalities: Ed – all of the events happening at the motel are concurrently occurring inside Malcolm’s mind, and each one of Malcolm’s personalities is represented by one person at the motel. Mallick explains to “Ed” that the events at the motel are a result of treatment Malcolm is receiving: the killings at the motel are Malcolm’s mental attempts to eliminate his nine excess personalities. Mallick further gives “Ed” the mission of making sure that the hostile personality (i.e., the one responsible for Malcolm’s committing the crimes for which he is being tried) is eliminated to prevent Malcolm from being executed.
Back in the motel setting, Ed believes Rhodes is the murderer, and the two shoot each other to death, leaving only Paris alive. When Mallick demonstrates that the homicidal personality is dead, the Judge decides to place Malcolm in a mental institution under Mallick’s care. In the final scene, Malcolm is driven in a van, along with Mallick to the institution. In Malcolm’s mind, Paris has driven away from the motel to her hometown in Frostproof, Florida. As she tends an orange grove, she discovers the room 1 motel key, and finds Timmy behind her. Timmy, the true homicidal personality, had orchestrated all the deaths at the motel, and made it appear that he had been killed as well; he finishes his task by killing Paris. Now driven only by Timmy, Malcolm strangles Mallick and then attacks the orderlies and the van driver, forcing the van off the side of the road.
The plot is designed to keep you guessing, as each plot twist throws up another series of questions and seemingly inexplicable situations. What is the relevance of the court case? How come keys are found by each body as the death toll mounts? Who is innocent and who is guilty? Here is a thriller that not only buckles the formula, but almost completely demolishes it. Each actor does a superb job of maintaining the suspense.

REVIEW: INJUSTICE (aka Puncture)

CAST
Chris Evans (Captain America)
Mark Kassen  (Jobs)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall)
Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
Jesse L. Martin (The Flash)
Vinessa Shaw (Eyes Wide Shut)
Roxanna Hope (No Reservations)
Michael Biehn (The Terminator)
Kate Burton (Stay)
Erinn Allison (The Return)
Tess Parker (The Ugly Truth)
Jennifer Blanc (Dark Angel)

Idealistic lawyers Mike Weiss and Paul Danziger are partners. Mike is a drug-addict and Paul is a family man with a pregnant wife. When nurse Vicky Rogers seeks them out, they learn that she contracted AIDS a couple of years ago when she was accidentally pinpricked with a contaminated needle by a violent patient. Vicky shows a retractable safety needle invented by engineer Jeffrey Matthew Dancort, who owns the Safety Point Company, but is unable to sell his product to any hospital from the United Medical group, apart from San Antonio Memorial. Danziger and Weiss accept the case and go to court against United Medical, defended by powerful lawyer Nathaniel Price. Soon, they see all the doors closed in their fight against the powerful mafia of the medical supply system.


Injustice is a movie somewhere between indie rawness and made for TV production values. That is to say it is humble, yet it doesn’t shoot itself in the foot as it begins with a single nurse’s AIDS infection and her desire to champion a family friend’s invention that would have prevented it. She sees a television ad for personal injury attorneys and, surprisingly to them, wants their services more so her friend’s invention can be implemented than for personal gain. The two attorneys in the shoe-string operation of Weiss and Danziger couldn’t be more unsuited for taking on the wealthy and powerful health-care establishment, yet due to Weiss’s obsessive interest in winning the unwinnable they do. Chris Evan’s portrayal of the drug-addicted Weiss drives this movie. Yes the story is solid, but the human frailty of Mike Weiss as brought to life by Evans is commendable. Weiss is a train-wreck of a person, however he is an unstoppable force who becomes a big thorn in the side of the health-care industries largest buying group. In spite of his drug use, he makes a case that scares the hell out of big pharma. Besides this being a compelling story, Chris Evans is the reason the viewer will want to watch this film.

 

REVIEW: TOTAL RECALL (1990)

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Sharon Stone (Catwoman)
Rachel Ticotin (Con Air)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Michael Ironside (X-Men: First Class)
Mel Johnson, Jr. (Hideous!)
Marshall Bell (Twins)
Robert Constanzo (Batman: TAS)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: DS9)
Dean Norris (The Cell)
Debbie Lee Carrington (Men In Black)
Lycia Naff (Star Trek: TNG)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Mickey Jones (V)
Rosemary Dunsmore (Orphan BLack)
Peter Kent (True Justice)

In 2084, Earthbound construction worker Douglas Quaid is having troubling dreams about Mars and a mysterious woman there. His wife Lori dismisses the dreams and discourages him from thinking about Mars, where the governor, Vilos Cohaagen, is fighting rebels while searching for a rumored alien artifact located in the mines. At “Rekall”, a company that provides memory implants of vacations, Quaid opts for a memory trip to Mars as a secret agent fantasy. However, during the procedure, before the memory is implanted, something goes wrong, and the story diverges between the question of what is real and what is hallucination. Apparently, Quaid starts revealing previously suppressed memories of actually being a secret agent. The company sedates him, wipes his memory of the visit, and sends him home. On the way home, Quaid is attacked by his friend Harry and some construction coworkers; he is forced to kill them, revealing elite fighting-skills. He is then attacked in his apartment by Lori, who reveals that she was never his wife; their marriage was just a false memory implant and Cohaagen sent her as an agent to monitor Quaid. He is then attacked and pursued by armed thugs led by Richter, Lori’s real husband and Cohaagen’s operative.
After evading his attackers, Quaid is given a suitcase containing money, gadgets, fake IDs, a disguise, and a video recording. The video is of Quaid himself, who identifies himself as “Hauser” and explains that he used to work for Cohaagen, but learned about the artifact and underwent the memory wipe to protect himself. “Hauser” instructs Quaid to remove a tracking device located inside his skull before ordering him to go to Mars and check into the Hilton with a fake ID. Quaid makes his way to Mars and follows clues to Venusville, the colony’s red-light district, primarily populated by people mutated as a result of poor radiation shielding. He meets Benny, a taxi driver, and Melina, the woman from his dreams; but she spurns him, believing that Quaid is still working for Cohaagen.
Quaid later encounters Dr. Edgemar and Lori, who claim Quaid has suffered a “schizoid embolism” and is trapped in a fantasy based on the implanted memories. Edgemar warns that Quaid is headed for lunacy and a lobotomy if he does not return to reality, then offers Quaid a pill that would waken him from the dream. Quaid puts the pill in his mouth, but after seeing Edgemar sweating in fear, he kills Edgemar and spits out the pill instead of swallowing it. Lori alerts Richter’s forces, who burst into the room and capture Quaid, but Melina rescues him, with Quaid killing Lori in the process. The two race back to the Venusville bar and escape into the tunnels with Benny. Unable to locate Quaid, Cohaagen shuts down the ventilation to Venusville, slowly asphyxiating its citizens. Quaid, Melina, and Benny are taken to a resistance base, and Quaid is introduced to Kuato, a parasitic twin conjoined to his brother’s stomach. Kuato reads Quaid’s mind and tells him that the alien artifact is a turbinium reactor that will create a breathable atmosphere for Mars when activated, eliminating Cohaagen’s abusive monopoly on breathable air. Cohaagen’s forces burst in and kill most of the resistance, including Kuato, who instructs Quaid to start the reactor. Benny reveals that he is also working for Cohaagen.
Quaid and Melina are taken to Cohaagen, who reveals the Quaid persona was a ploy by Hauser to infiltrate the mutants and lead Cohaagen to Kuato, thereby wiping out the resistance. Cohaagen orders Hauser’s memory to be re-implanted in Quaid and Melina programmed as Hauser’s obedient wife, but Quaid and Melina escape into the mines where the reactor is located. They work their way to the control room of the reactor, and Benny attacks them in an excavation machine. Quaid kills Benny, then confronts Richter and his men, killing them too.
Quaid reaches the reactor control room, where Cohaagen is waiting with a bomb. During the ensuing struggle, Cohaagen triggers the bomb, but Quaid throws it away, blowing out one of the walls of the control room and causing an explosive decompression. While reaching for the reactor controls, Quaid knocks out Cohaagen, which causes him to be sucked out onto the Martian surface, killing him. Quaid manages to activate the reactor before he and Melina are also pulled out. The reactor releases air into the Martian atmosphere, saving Quaid, Melina and the rest of Mars’ population. As humans walk onto the surface of the planet in its new atmosphere, Quaid momentarily pauses to wonder whether he is dreaming before turning to kiss Melina.
Good Si-Fi story. The special effects are, as expected, a little dated now but was state of the art for the 90’s. Story moves at a great pace and Arnie is at his usual best with great one liners “consider this a divorce” to Sharon Stone as his evil wife. I prefer this version to the re-boot in 2012.

REVIEW: SERVING SARA

CAST

Matthew Perry (The Odd Couple)
Elizabeth Hurley (EDtv)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Vincent Pastore (The Family)
Cedric The Entertainer (Kingdom Come)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Terry Crews (The 6th Day)
Jerry Stiller (Zoolander)
Marshall Bell (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2)
Joe Viterelli (Analyze That)
Alaina Huffman (Staragte Universe)
Mike Judge (King of The Hill)

Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry), a process server, is a week late serving a Mafia kingpin known as Fat Charlie (Joe Viterelli) with a summons to appear as a witness in court. Joe’s abrasive boss Ray (Cedric the Entertainer) ridicules him while complimenting Joe’s rival, Tony (Vincent Pastore), for serving multiple summonses in record time. Willing to give Joe one last shot, Ray gives him an assignment to serve British socialite Sara Moore (Elizabeth Hurley) with divorce papers from her husband, Gordon (Bruce Campbell), who is at his ranch in Texas with his mistress, Kate (Amy Adams), while Sara is vacationing in upstate New York.
While Joe is attempting to serve Sara, Tony tips her off, thus revealing that Joe has been failing lately because Tony is sabotaging his efforts. Eventually Joe does serve her, but is mugged soon thereafter. Joe and Sara are forced to take the same bus; while they are riding together, Joe informs her that, under Texas law, she stands to gain nothing from the divorce. When she learns that “half of everything” would apply if the papers had been served under New York law, Sara offers Joe a million dollars to serve her husband and rip up her papers. Despite knowing that he might lose his job, Joe agrees and the two set off together to serve Gordon.
When Ray hears of their plan, he informs Gordon and sends Tony off to re-serve Sara. Gordon hires a bodyguard (Terry Crews) to protect himself, and Joe, expecting Tony to tail him, leaves a set of bogus clues that lead Tony to Miami, Florida, Bangor, Maine, and then Amarillo, Texas, where Tony is shot in the back as he attempts to get on the grounds of the wrong ranch to try to serve the papers. Sara and Joe trail Gordon to his ranch, but Gordon evades them. At the ranch, Sara takes some money and Gordon’s passport so that he can not leave the country. Sara and Joe stay overnight at a hotel, and Joe tells Sara of his dream of owning a vineyard. While Sara is bathing, Joe goes to the bar, and Gordon’s mistress appears to suggest a new deal to Joe; for one million dollars from the divorce settlement, she will reveal Gordon’s location. Joe agrees, but the entire deal is a setup to get Tony into the hotel room to serve Sara, which he does. Furious, Sara kicks Joe out.
While Joe contemplates his lost fortune and budding affection for Sara, he notices Tony’s watch in the picture Tony took of him serving Sara, and calls Ray to inform him that Tony forgot to set his watch to Central Time Zone, so that the papers do not take effect until 7:04 pm Central Time. With mere minutes until they both lose a fortune, Joe and Sara trail Gordon to a monster truck rally. They evade both Gordon’s bodyguard and Tony, and with seconds to spare, Sara knocks Gordon out by dropping a six-pack of beer on his head. Joe serves him under New York law and Gordon takes the papers. Tony and the bodyguard are carried out of the stadium on stretchers and then attempt to fight one another. The final scene shows Joe and Sara at Joe’s vineyard, where they taste-test a bottle of Joe’s first vintage before going inside to have sex.
I enjoyed this  road comedy. The highlight was Bruce Campbell and a before she was famous appearance from Amy Adams.