Impostor

2002

Starring Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Tony Shalhoub, Vincent D'Onofrio, Mekhi Phifer (Sinise also co-produced)

This movie surprised me like an IRA car bomb in Pleasantville, Iowa. Which is to say, I like to forecast plots & endings & blew it. Most of the way through it, I thought I had it figured out. Just when it looked like another predictable piece of Hollywood Science Fiction/Fantasy Action/Adventure Drama Carbon-Copy, I got bitch-slapped like every bad guy in the ‘60’s Batman TV series. Bang! Ka-Pow! Ouch! Holy Headache, Batman.

So why should you go rent this? Especially when most of the critics shredded it? Forget them—they’re critics! The heartless, soulless bastards. This is a good flick. The ending is worth it.

It picks up just minutes into the beginning. You have action, suspense, a glimpse of the future, (though we’ll be way past video phones by 2079 & I already talk to my shower, it just ignores me), no real eye candy, a twist or two, some mystery, blah blah blah. If you dig Madeleine Stowe, (I won’t ask why), her screen time is short. Half of her time is just Sinise’s character reminiscing about her.

In comparison to the performance by the lead ‘villain’, which is far from noteworthy, Sinise manages to draw us in to his little shop of horrors quickly & convincingly. Whatever he’s selling, I’m buying. He’s one of a few virtually omnipotent performers who, much like Kevin Spacey, can morph from layman to deity right before your eyes, Far beyond captivating, he’s magnetic. Almost a modern-day Arthur Fonzarelli, Sinise is well on his way to becoming one of the truly great actors of this age. And he’s cool.

Good supporting roles by Tony Shalhoub, Mekhi Phifer, Elizabeth Pena, and a slew of familiar faces including Rosalind Chao.

Originally part of a trilogy that became a feature, it^Ňs based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, and includes a notable twist in store for you. And twists are nothing new to Dick. PKD wrote a ton of short stories, many of which were the basis for some wild movies, including "Second Variety" which later became Screamers, "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" which was the basis for Total Recall, "Minority Report", a short story originally published in 1956, which became the Spielberg/Cruise 2000 blockbuster, and "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" which was the source for Blade Runner, one of the all-time great SciFi flicks.

The film makes excellent use of darkness, beyond the lack of lighting, which, combined with all the other elements and performances, come together to be far more than the sum of its parts. In the behind-the-scenes interviews, director Gary Fleder continually compares it to Orwell’s 1984. While that might be stretching it, it comes close. (An obvious recurring element of the author’s is that in the future, people are recognized wherever they go, here by a sub-dermal implant, in Minority Report, automatic retinal scans are commonplace).

The sets, the toys, the visual effects & CGI, they’re all sweet. Apart from this one location with these huge concrete columns which is almost as over-used as Torrance High School, (see any 90210, Buffy, She’s All That, etc.), it’s all fresh and visually delicious. The so-called “futurists” brought in to consult on What The Future Will Be Like did a better job here than in Spielberg’s Minority Report. Imposter’s technology is subtle, integrated & believable, not flashy or gimmicky (and there’s no commercialization, no Lexus ads, etc.—thank you Mr. Spielberg).

Forget the critics. And if you have a DVD player, there are a couple extras in it for you, and I don’t mean the Spanish subtitles.

Since I’m not about to sum it up and spoil it, there are a few good plot summaries at IMDB.

Rating: 4/5: Definitely worth seeing in theaters (except it was released in January....).


Where:
5/5: Drop everything and go see it today
4/5: Definitely worth seeing in theaters
3/5: Easily worth the price of the matinee
2/5: Last Choice at Blockbuster
1/5: Keep your money, stay home & channel surf

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