It is July 2002 and Minority Report, the Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller based on a short story by Philip K. Dick is upon us. It's easy to see why a movie like Impostor, another Philip K. Dick-inspired movie, got lost in the seams.
Gary Sinise stars as Spencer Olham, a successful scientist in a futuristic age where everyone can be detected at all times, and aliens have ravaged much of the Earth. Unfortunately for Olham, his problem with the aliens is that he may actually be one of their weapons... the World Government thinks that the real Olham was murdered and has been replaced with a biological robot that will self destruct upon getting within striking distance of the President. Of course, Olham thinks he's innocent, so he does the only logical thing and runs.
Impostor has a good cast made up of Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Mekhi Phifer. I'm actually surprised director Gary Fleder was able to attract all of these people considering that Impostor was apparently originally intended to be a short film, but then it was decided to turn it into a full length picture. Of course, upon doing so, Fleder made the cast the best part of the picture.
It's not that Impostor is a terrible movie; it's just ordinary. The sci-fi in the film is nothing we've seen before, a war-ravaged Earth, Big Brother-type utopias, and very different architecture. It has a lot of similarities to the world of Minority Report, and while I hate to compare it to a movie that was released six months earlier, for those looking for other Philip K. Dick movies after witnessing the intelligence of Report, don't look here. It's just your typical sci-fi action movie. It's plot is slightly similar to Minority Report as well, such as you don't know whether the main character will end up being innocent or not, but again, it's nowhere as thought out as the Spielberg film, as if I really needed to explicitly say that.
Basically, I wasn't expecting much from Impostor. It flopped in theaters, got horrible reviews, and had been sitting on the shelf for quite a while, which is never a good sign. I was pleasantly surprised for the most part; while there isn't anything extraordinary in the picture, including the script and direction, it keeps your attention and gives you a mindless popcorn film. Of course, that's not what the director was intended, but he has to take what he can, right?
Unfortunately, even though I am able to overlook the flaws of the film, I am not able to forget the ending. Impostor's ending is downright terrible, ranking in as one of the worst endings ever made. Even if the rest of the movie had been extraordinary, this ending would have destroyed it. What the hell was Fleder thinking?
Impostor is a brainless, although not intentionally so, sci-fi thriller with a story that keeps you watching until the end, even if just to find out whether he is a robot or not. I thought at least part of the ending was pretty predictable, but I still had to find out for sure. It will be a soon forgotten title, and so I just have a word of advice for Mr. Sinise: stick to the supporting roles. That's where you are most successful and have the best chance of winning an Oscar. Look at Apollo 13 and Forest Gump, and stay away from sci-fi action movies. The action hero character is not for you.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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