Director: James Mangold
Writer: Michael Cooney
Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta and Amanda Peet
This film begins listening to tapes from an interview. The person listening to them is Alfred Molina. He is a doctor of the mind. We end up learning that a man is set to be executed, but a journal was found so a new hearing has come up. The district attorney is played by Marshall Bell and he is irate at his assistant DA, who is played by Matt Letscher for letting this happen without him knowing. The prisoner is being transported to the secret hearing.
We then cut to the desert. There is a couple with a child traveling. The stepfather is played by John C. McGinley; his wife is played by Leila Kenzle and the child by Bret Loehr. McGinley has an OCD-like issue and Loehr doesn’t talk much. They get a flat tire and they pull over to fix it.
There is John Cusack, who is a limo driver for a famous actress, who is played by Rebecca De Mornay. She isn’t very nice. Her phone dies so she asks Cusack to check the bag next to him for another battery. It is raining badly out so he isn’t paying attention when he hits someone. It ends up being Kenzle he hit. He is trying to find a hospital, but the path is blocked by water. Also all the phones they find don’t work.
There also is Amanda Peet, who we see is an escort and is driving across the desert in a convertible. When the downpour starts, she can’t get over a river of runoff.
There is Clea DuVall who has just gotten married to her sweetheart, played by William Lee Scott. They don’t seem like it though.
Ray Liotta is transporting a prisoner, who is played by Jake Busey. Finally there is John Hawkes, who is running a hotel. Everyone converges there, but not everyone is who they seem to be.
The judge who will hear the case is Holmes Osborne and it turns out the person that is in question is Pruitt Taylor Vince. The argument has been that he has multiple personalities. They don’t know that the other ones exist, but his defense attorney, played by Carmen Argenziano, thinks because this is the case that he cannot be executed.
Mornay finally gets her phone to turn on after charging it. She goes out into the weather looking for service when she is killed by someone. Cusack wakes up and hears something outside. He goes to investigate and finds Mornay’s head inside of a dryer. Liotta and Hawkes show up in the room too. Liotta notices there is something in there with it, which turns out to be a room key for number 10.
Others begin to die in other ways and after each one, another hotel key is found and the numbers keep decreasing. The people learn that they have things in common. Who from the group is doing the killing though? What does this group that is stranded in the desert have to do with this court hearing? Is there a connection? Can the killer be found before it is too late and will anyone survive?
I have to say that coming into watching this film; I had a vague idea of what it was about and didn’t know what was going on for most of it. When I say that, I mean it as a good thing since it was not predictable and it had me guessing until the end. There are a lot of details that I left out of the review, because it would begin to give away what happens in this film.
I want to say that the acting in this film was great. The story is fantastic. Much of the film feels like two stories that have nothing to do with each other, but the more that goes on, the more you see that they are connected. On top of that, we see that there is more in common with these people than they realize. It is a solid, who is the killer thriller, but goes beyond that genre.
The only thing that I didn’t like about this film is that there were a few things that were unrealistic. It does make sense as to why they can happen in the end, but when you are watching it, it did take me a little away for me.
I would highly recommend giving this film a viewing. I thought the story was great in that you don’t know what to expect and it keeps you guessing. There are some different death scenes, which I liked as well. Coupled with the solid acting in this one, it really is a pleasure to watch what happens. I wasn’t expecting the ending, which I also really liked. Definitely is worth a viewing for this film.
My Rating: 8 out of 10