Memory loss, henchmen with headpieces chasing people around in white vans, and a trail of figurative blood that leads to a lot of money being sought after by a Communist rebel faction. These are the hallmarks for an enjoyable, if not exactly groundbreaking, thriller, and this is exactly what we are treated with in ID: A.
A woman (Tuva Novotny) wakes up by a river with a cut on her head. She stumbles to the nearest motel and as she checks in, it becomes apparent that she has no recollection of who she is or how she got here. Furthermore, it turns out she’s in France when in fact she lives in Denmark, and is also the wife of a renowned opera singer, Just Ore (Flemming Enevold). And just who the hell are these menacing-looking men chasing her?
This sense of fearful disorientation makes up the early part of the film, establishing a tense atmosphere in which we feel that our poor amnesiac protagonist has no one in the world to help her. The mystery men following her around the cobbled streets of a French village clearly don’t have good intentions, and we sympathise with the hapless Ida, who seems hopelessly out of her depth in her predicament.
After Ida finds her way back to her husband, there is only a momentary sense of security as she soon discovers from her sister that Just is involved with a violent communist group. What neither Just nor Ida realise is during the period which she’s conveniently forgotten about, Ida inadvertently got caught up in the group’s activities. As such, the only people who get the whole picture are the baddies, who believe that Ida knows the whereabouts of a considerable amount of money that they’ve had stolen from them.
As to be expected, there is a lot of chasing around going on in this film. While the scenes in themselves are dynamically edited and packed with quick-cutting goodness, there’s not much variety when it comes to the thrills. It’s not that explosions are necessary for a good thriller (the recently-released Cleanskin proves that), but this film never really breaks away from the safe routine of running-and-driving, with a few bullets thrown in for good measure. After the first couple of chases, it becomes apparent that these henchmen can’t shoot for shit, making the intensity levels steadily decline as the film goes on.
If there’s something that compensates for the samey action sequences, it’s Tuva Novotny’s performance. At no point does she turn into a smart-quipping, ass-kicking heroine, and doesn’t fire a single bullet throughout the whole film. If anything, she’s a little bit on the cutesy side, but this makes the odds seem even more firmly stacked against her. We root for her because for most of the film she is utterly clueless; an ordinary, terrified woman dragged into something that she never fully understands.
Unlike most thrillers, ID: A doesn’t twist and turn like a pretzel. Most of the plot is uncovered in one particular near-death moment for Ida. During this flashback, Ida’s brother Martin (Carsten Bjørnlund) gets thrown into the fray, as he too is involved with the rebel group’s shady activities. Once Ida snaps back to the present day, the film winds down to a fairly tame climax and warm, predictable conclusion. It’s refreshing to see a thriller in which we never get full clarity on the wider events that the hero gets caught up in, but repetitive chase sequences and mostly underdeveloped characters mean that the film never engages us quite as much as it should.