Impostor Movie Review

Not long ago, some genius a lot smarter than me decided it might be nice if instead of just one sheep, we could have two. Thus began man's obsession with cloning: an obsession that, for better or worse, has somehow managed to spill over into your local cineplex. Some days I wish they'd never cloned that damn sheep at all.

Impostor is Hollywood's latest cloning experiment. Based on a short story by futurist Philip K. Dick, Impostor takes place in a future far away, when man is at war with an alien race. Spencer Olham (Gary Sinise) is on the front lines of weapons development to combat man's alien threat. But one day, things go horribly wrong and Spencer finds himself accused by the military of being an alien replicant, with an assassin's bomb implanted in his chest. Unable to believe he is anyone other than himself, Spencer escapes to search for the truth.

It's hard to think of Gary Sinise as an action star, but he proves himself quite capable in the role of the tortured and confused Spencer. Despite some fairly thin dialogue, Sinise somehow manages to make us care about and even root for his character. There's not a lot of depth, but he fits well into the Impostor tale.

Behind Spencer at every turn is his driven and fairly clueless nemesis, Hathaway, played by Vincent D'Onofrio. I suspect D'Onofrio was trying to make his character seem cold and determined, but instead he makes him appear lifeless and wooden. We see glimmers of something deeper, but D'Onofrio and director Gary Fleder seem hesitant to commit to humanizing his character.

Regardless, this plot isn't particularly ingenious anyway. Cloning is the new "hot" topic in Hollywood and money-grubbing execs are slavering to push out cloning-related pictures. Most of them are throwaways, like Schwarzenegger's abortive The 6th Day in 2000. Unfortunately, while Impostor is doomed to share pretty much the same niche as that bottom shelf rental, it's actually a much smarter film.

Unlike other futuristic throwaways, Impostor isn't obsessed with showing off cool gadgets and flashy effects. There's a real focus on the story and its main character. In many ways, it's reminiscent of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (also based on a Philip K. Dick story), without much of the ingenuity and creativity.

Impostor doesn't really do anything wrong, elevating itself beyond some "dumb" action flick. But it's also not particularly exciting or engaging, nor is the audience likely to care about much of the goings-on. Strangely enough, even though the ending comes as a surprise, I didn't find myself particularly roused by it. Maybe it was the cold pills I took beforehand, but it seems as though Fleder is interested in making his film just interesting enough to keep you awake... and no more.

The only notable feature on the DVD is a 40-minute short film of... Impostor. In fact, it's made from the same footage as the feature film -- the beginning and the end, with the silly chase business of the 2nd act cut out altogether. I don't know if the feature is just an expanded version of the short or if the short was trimmed out of the feature... but hey, at least it's quicker to watch (and you aren't missing anything if you avoid the main event).

Up the voltage.

Comments

Impostor Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2002

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