Review Date: December 19, 2001
Director: Garry Fleder
Writer: Caroline Case, Ehren Kruger, David N. Twohy
Producers: Gary Fleder, Marty Katz, Gary Sinise
Gary Sinise as Spencer Olham
Vincent D'Onofrio as Hathaway
Madeleine Stowe as Maya Olham
The year is 2079, the planet is at war with the alien race of Centauri and a brilliant weapons engineer is in hot water, as the federal security agency accuses him of being an alien. He refutes the claims and escapes their clutches, but in doing so, becomes a fugitive from the law. Is he an alien or just a guy with bad hair? Agency chase impostor. Impostor run, run!
This movie reminded me a little bit of THE FUGITIVE, TOTAL RECALL and BLADE RUNNER, but without the originality, tension or overall entertainment value. I only found out later that it was actually based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, the man who's also responsible for the plotlines from the two latter films (as well as next year's Spielberg/Cruise sci-fi flick MINORITY REPORT). Hmmmmm, I guess there are only so many sci-fi ideas that one could toss around before they start looking the same, right? Anyway, here's a project that's been in the can for over a year now, a movie that the studio is releasing (read: dumping) in early January and a screening for which I was personally not reserving a lot of hope. Well, things started off on the right foot: decent special effects, cool little futuristic gadgets, Tony Shalhoub as the "best friend" and a pretty solid premise. Everything was hunky-dory so far. But it wasn't long before the film started dropping plot holes off at the doorstep (the man is secured in a high-security interrogation room and escapes through an open vent in the wall??), slapping slow-motion and strobe shots into every other scene and turning the rest of the movie into a lesson in dark filmmaking. It's one thing to make the film dark, but when you can barely tell the difference between the lame sets...gimme a break! Another problem that I had with this film was that everyone seemed to want to know whether or not this guy was an alien, but God forbid they conduct a simple "test" on the guy, which could apparently resolve the whole thing! The poor bastard tries to explain this to them, and even though he used to be a highly-regarded scientist only one day earlier, his word apparently means nothing anymore??
There's also the lack of any real tension during the whole "chase" part of the movie (which takes up most of it). Shalhoub and Stowe disappear for that duration and all that we're left with is Sinise (who we barely got to know before the run-around) and D'Onofrio (in one of his lesser impressive performances) playing tit for tat, without any real suspense (and shame on Fleder for slapping in a couple of "boo" scares instead). These doofuses are supposed to be the most highly-trained security personnel on the planet, but they routinely let Sinise escape through vents (which are everywhere in the future, apparently!), don't notice him when he literally bumps into them and mistake him for a little girl in another scene. I mean...c'mon!!! But without the pickiness of the believability of the chase, the film is still pretty coherent, does present an interesting dilemma for the future (if aliens can actually look like us...how do we fight and recognize them?) and the ending, seriously blew me for a loop! I won't give anything away here, but I definitely didn't expect it to conclude on that note and for that...I was pretty happy. Incidentally, this film was originally only slated to be a 30-minute portion of an anthology film, which might help explain some of the filler and lack of real development. In the end, this flick isn't horrible by any means, but it certainly isn't a good movie either. Feels like one of those sci-fi TV shows that you watch for an hour and then forget all about. Skip it if you're not into sci-fi at all, and check it out on video if you are...but don't expect much.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian