Monday, September 3, 2007

Impostor (2002)

Directed by Gary Fleder
Starring Gary Senise, Madeline Stowe, Vincent D'Onofrio

It's been a while since my last review. Blame the fact that I started a new job on 7/16 and haven't had much time to watch movies. Also, my wife decided that she wanted to watch "The Island" so I had to hold onto that one for a while and only just sent it back.

And now on to "Imposter".

Spence Olham (Gary Senise) is a scientist in the future, designing the ultimate weapon for use against the alien enemy from Alpha Centauri that has utterly decimated most of the earth and forced the remaining population to live under energy shields to protect them from orbital attacks.

Flushing out the main character, Olham's father was captured and tortured to death by the Centauri when he was a child, which made him passionate about defeating them, but at the same time he's a bit of a reluctant tool of the new earth government, worrying about the power and possibilities of the weapon he has created. Some of this reluctance is due to his marriage to Maya Olham (Madeline Stowe), his "salvation" in this broken world they live in.

Today is Olham's big day. He's unveiling his completed weapon and the President's visiting. Trouble is, an intercepted Centauri transmission claims that Olham's really dead and the man walking around in his place is a clone - a replicant that is biologically and psychologically identical, believing he's really Olham and unaware that he's carrying a hidden nuke in his heart.

Olham believes he's Olham, Inspector Hathaway (D'Onofrio) believes he's an alien construct trying to blow up the President. Unfortunately for Olham, the only way to tell for sure is to get drilled open by a blender blade and have your still-beating heart removed. If it turns into a bomb and defuses, you're a clone. If it doesn't... Oops. Faced with the choice, Olham freaks and runs. Wouldn't you? The rest of the movie is a cat and mouse chase and a very atypical and somewhat unfulfilling ending.

Good actors means good acting. It's just a shame when good acting is paired with a script that wasn't originally intended for a full feature film but was expanded from a 30 minute short in a 3-part sci-fi anthology. At best, the actors save this from being a SciFi version of Law & Order Criminal Intent.

A man's heart is extracted from his chest in a very bloody, very direct method. It's not pretty. They did a good job there with the realism. Too good almost. The only other effect of note is a full body scanner that generates a life-sized 3D hologram of your innards.

Atmosphere and Immersive Details
The world they've created here is alien in many ways, and not just because the premise is that earth has been ravaged by an alien attacker. The government is semi-fascist, the populace lives in terror of unseen attackers, there's a gigantic rift between the rich and poor resulting in only the rich receiving adequate medical care. Oh wait, that's not so alien I suppose. Overall, this world is complete, but a bit disjointed and without neat & tidy transitions from one location to the next.

The tech presented in the movie is pretty impressive and I liked the way it was presented as matter-of-fact without much fanfare as some sci-fi movies do it. Unfortunately, this has the negative effect of making you want to see more of it in a "gee-neato-cool" fashion the way we're used to in all those other sci-fi movies. Even if everyone in that world is supposed to know what it is, the audience doesn't and they want to know what makes it tick.


This movie is based on a Philip K. Dick short story. The same man whose stories were made into the movies Blade Runner, Total Recall & Minority Report. Given that knowledge, I was really hoping that this was going to be a good movie or at least a fun ride. I'll give it extra credit for not providing a standard Hollywood ending, but in this case the result leaves you feeling hollow whereas the Hollywood ending or at least a different twist might have made the ending more palatable. 2 Stars, Didn't Like It.