Impostor

on January 04, 2002 by Bridget Byrne
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Are you now or have you ever been...a human being?

   "Impostor" is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 1952 short story that combined witchhunt-style paranoia with futurism fears. The movie keeps behaving as though it has something important to say--people in the direst of circumstances find time to philosophize and drop Einstein quotes--but essentially it's just a chase flick set in a murky domed-over world where sunlight is a forgotten bliss. That means it's dark to look at, though actually the visual tone is much more successful than the emotional tone.

   Hope keeps arising that the movie will live up to the apparent skills of its makers and the talents of its actors, but it doesn't. It seems to be missing parts--a heart, for one thing. The problem with short stories, even successful ones, it that they are essentially précis which don't take well to being fleshed out. Kept lean and mean, this tale would make an ideal episode for a sci-fi television series, but thrown on to a giant screen, it seems skeletal.

   Gary Sinese and Madeleine Stowe are a lovely couple, as far as anyone can be lovely in a 2079 where the sharp line between what is human and what is robot or alien is no longer clearly visible. So when Sinese, a weapons expert, is suspected of being a replicate with the potential to blow up his own world instead of someone else's, he has to be hunted down. D'Onofrio is the relentless hunter. Is he a mistaken new age Inspector Javert out to destroy an honorable man? Will Stowe, a good doctor in a world more adept at killing than healing, still trust that her man is her man? This sort of stuff goes on and on amid endless giant sets depicting a very nasty looking you-scan-we-scan-we're-all-scanned environment where your best bet is to opt out and live like a sewer rat. Mekhi Phifer makes what he can of an underground leader who agrees to help the fugitive scientist in order to aid his fellow outcasts and dropouts. All the performers, like the movie itself, run as fast as they can, but they don't get anywhere better. Starring Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe and Vincent D'Onofrio. Directed by Gary Fleder. Written by Caroline Case, Ehren Kruger and David Twohy. Produced by Gary Fleder, Gary Sinese, Marty Katz and Daniel Lupi. A Dimension release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence, some sensuality and language. Running time: 89 min

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