Review: 'The Identical', Starring Blake Rayne, Ray Liotta, and Ashley Judd

Many people might not know this little tidbit about Elvis Presley's life: he had a twin brother. Although the twin brother of the legendary rock 'n roll artist did not live to see past birth, The Identical spews a fictitious story asking a single question. What if the twin had lived and been adopted and raised by another family? Sure, The Identical never actually tells us that this is loosely based on Presley's life, renaming the lead characters, but one look at Blake Rayne, who is an Elvis impersonator in real life, and you'll know that the story is practically Elvis remixed. Unfortunately, this doesn't save it from being a disaster of a film and painful to sit through. 

A young couple, living in Depression-era 1930s, are expecting a baby. But with no jobs and not enough food to feed more than three people, they decide to give one of their babies away after the unexpected birth of not one, but two babies. The local preacher Reece Wade (Ray Liotta) and his wife Louise (Ashley Judd) are unable to have children, and so the baby is offered to them to raise as their own. 

Of course, the usual storyline of the father wanting his son to follow in his footsteps ensues and Pastor Wade encourages and sets his son Ryan (Blake Rayne) on the path to also become a minister because he believes Ryan has a higher calling. But all Ryan can think about is that he wants to perform for people, sing. He finds inspiration in the music of Drexel Hemsley, who's unbeknownst to him, Ryan's twin brother. They're both drawn to music, though they live completely different lives, Drexel a very popular rock 'n roll artist. 

Ryan becomes semi-popular performing Drexel's songs, never knowing that the two of them are brothers. Without growing up together, Ryan's life is torn between feeling like a piece of him is missing, fulfilling his dreams of performing great music, and pleasing his father.  

This film is obviously geared towards the faith-based community, although you don't have to be a believer to watch it, since this very fictitious take on Elvis's twin could have been made to be very intriguing. So it's a shame to tell you that there isn't much to enjoy at all. One of the things that's most bothersome about the film is that the lead character, who is himself an Elvis impersonator in real life, looks like Elvis, talks like Elvis, moves like Elvis, and performs the same-sounding songs as the legendary musician, but the film takes caution to ever broach the topic behind it's inspiration, which is, ironically enough, Elvis. 

There's a nice touch in the beginning of the movie where the scenes play out in sepia tones to portray the fact that it takes place before present day, but nice small touches like this are easily drowned out by the slow pacing, lack of proper character development, and the need to suddenly shove religious politics down our throats for no particular reason. 

One of the most unsatisfying things about the film is that it takes no time to get into the background story of the famous musician twin. We see him when he's only a baby, and then very sporadically after that. We never learn very much about him except that he's famous and knew that he'd had a twin brother who "died". It's one of the major flaws of the film, which ultimately feels like a rip-off of sorts. Yes, the story is about the other twin, the one who leads a completely different life than the one we think we know, but it does the story a disservice, as well as to the character of Ryan himself, to never learn much about his brother. 

None of the characters are fleshed out enough to offer up enough sympathy for any of them. Ryan's story from start to finish is never anything exhilarating as we watch him go
from one thing to another as though his timeline is flat and uninteresting. And this is largely how the whole movie feels, flat and uninteresting. 

Performances from Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd are decent, but they don't have much to work with. Seth Green appears here and there as the supportive friend and band member, but there isn't anything memorable about him, and Ryan is torn about his life's journey and choices, yet there isn't much going on terms of showing us anything about his struggles. We're just told over and over again in hopes that we'll get it. 

The Identical had the potential to be an interesting take on a life that was never really lived in the real world, only for it to be told in an extremely underwhelming way onscreen. There's nothing that stands out about this film besides the music, which is fun and enjoyable, and sadly not enough of it. We move through Ryan's timeline as though the film is attempting a biopic, and pushes the envelope too far by practically making the lead character a carbon copy of Elvis. Why not just have created the story without the Elvis similarities? The story might have fared better. Underwhelming. boring, and unenjoyable overall. 
Rating: 2 out of 5