29 July 2013 | vchimpanzee
Confusing but mostly satisfying
At the start of the movie, Dr. Malick is evaluating Malcolm Rivers, who is about to be executed for a series of murders, unless Malick can convince those who need to hear that Rivers was insane.
Then a seemingly unrelated series of events take place. And while we don't see Malick or Rivers again for a while, they are somehow connected with these events too. Exactly how I've never quite figured out.
The one common thread is that all the parties involved (except Malick) are driving through rural Nevada in heavy rain that is causing so much flooding everyone will end up at this one motel. A hooker who wants to grow oranges in Florida, the spoiled actress Carolina Suzanne and her driver Ed, the York family, newlyweds Ginny and Lou, and Rhodes, who is transporting prisoner Robert Maine.
Motel clerk Larry calmly checks everyone in, not exactly upset by all the chaos. But there's no working phone, and one of the potential guests seriously needs emergency help. Ed tries, but there's too much flooding to make it to a hospital and even cell phones don't work.
Ed, a former cop, tries to take charge of the situation, though Rhodes seems to think he should be in charge. And then people start dying. And the prisoner escapes. The newlyweds are in Room 6, and the number falls, making it look like a 9. The main clues to the murders are keys found with the bodies, and the keys seem to be showing up in sequence--10, 9, 8, 7 ...
So who will survive? Who is really behind the murders? And how are Malick and Rivers connected to all this?
I found the early scenes fascinating. Everyone was connected to everyone else, and if one event hadn't happened, none of the others would have. Eventually, I was just plain confused because I didn't know what was going on.
And when the murderer was finally revealed, he or she was not really revealed. I felt like I had heard three different possibilities but not been told which one was the right one. Then again, maybe I was told more information than was needed, and some of it was irrelevant. But I can't believe they would go THIS far ...
There were a lot of good acting performances. I genuinely dislike John McGinley, but he played a totally different character here than what I am used to. He seemed compulsive and somewhat mentally ill but genuinely desired to do the right thing.
Gary Busey was scary and almost funny, not too different from some of his other bad guy characters.
Bret Loehr didn't have much to do early as the little boy who had lost one parent and seemed likely to lose two more. But he was quite good later.
John Cusack carried the movie. He showed frustration but also competence. His character wasn't perfect but he wanted to do the best he could and didn't have patience with those who didn't care about others or couldn't handle the situation.
And Rebecca DeMornay did the demanding celebrity routine quite well.
I'm not going to recommend this for family viewing because some of the bodies are hard to look at.
It's mostly a worthy effort.