Retro Review: Impostor

Sci-fi guru and visionary Phillip K. Dick dreamed of far off worlds and intricate plots that still fascinate us today. His sci-fi masterpieces have spawned such classic sci-fi films as “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall”.

What seems to be a common thread through his stories, which have been brought to the screen, are the ideas of mistaken identity, a dark apocalyptic worlds, a man on the run and some sort of robot being involved. In “Blade Runner” we had a cop chasing androids that have gone awry. In “Total Recall” we had a man struggling through a mix-match of intrigue to discover if he has a hidden identity.

In the new film, “Impostor”, Gary Sinise stars as Spencer Ohlum, a man who is mistaken as an android carrying a bomb in his chest. He is hunted by Hathaway, a ruthless agent (Vincent D’Onofrio) who is convinced he is the bomb and is after an important political figure (Lindsay Crouse). The android’s mission according to Hathaway is to get as close as he can to the politician then genetically set off an untraceable bomb contained in the droid’s heart.

For the whole 95 minutes of “Impostor” you will ask the question is Sinise really this machine? If he is does he have the power to control the bomb? Do we really care?

Impostor’s message of a misunderstood man running from “Big Brother” for a crime he can’t control seems to have become a common thread in science fiction films. Since the original story was conceived in 1953 its no wonder it has become what it is. But returning to its roots isn’t always a good thing.

This time the theme is a lot darker than usual not just in the plot but by the way the film is directed as well. The film is heavy shadowed and a lot of it takes place at night. It’s often hard to follow Sinise’s exploits because we can hardly see him. There are endless dark tunnels, flashlights and running soldiers which make it hard for the viewer to really feel for the guy or see the obstacles around him. The magic of Dick’s story seems lost in the quagmire of shadows.

I liked the special effects, the sets (the ones that were lit), the trick ending, the really amazing medical devices and the performance of Sinise. But Vincent D’Onofrio looked extremely bored throughout and it’s no wonder he moved on to “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” after this. Madeleine Stowe, who plays Sinise’s wife in the film, just mopes and cries through her scenes.

The film’s screenplay was co-written by David Twohy, who garnered a lot of attention with last year’s sleeper sci-fi hit “Pitch Black” but there are really no sign of his brilliance here. If Twohy would have directed this film I bet we would have seen something a lot more interesting than what is presented.

The film sat on the studio shelf for over a year and really probably saw a release because of the hype surrounding “Minority Report”, which is another Dick adaptation coming next summer. “Minority Report” is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Cruise as an agent who can see into the future and arrests people before they commit crimes.

Cruise’s whole world comes undone when he goes from arresting people to being the one arrested. Does that sound familiar? “Report” and “Impostor” do seem to have a common thread.

“Impostor” is for Dick and sci-fi junkies only. It will probably be a good video renter.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

One thought on “Retro Review: Impostor

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