In the year 2079, Earth is at war with an alien force which uses androids as unsuspecting bomb carriers. Spencer Olham (Gary Sinise) is a decorated scientist who creates what could be the ultimate weapon against the aliens. When he is suddenly accused of being an alien android himself, he goes on the run and sparks a nationwide manhunt. Tracked by Major Hathaway (Vincent D'Onofrio), Olham receives help from an underground leader (Mekhi Pipher), but upon returning to the city he finds that his own wife Maya (Madeleine Stowe) and best friend Nelson (Tony Shalhoub) have their doubts about his identity.
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Impostor is based on the Philip K. Dick short story of the same name and was originally slated as a 30 minute portion of an anthology film. It's anyone's guess why it was retooled as a feature film. The timing, most of all, is terrible, as another Dick story comes to the screen two weeks later: Minority Report - and that's a big-budget blockbuster with the weight of Spielberg and Cruise behind it. Considering the fact that Dick's other screen incantations have similar themes and were released years apart - Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), Screamers (1995) - Impostor is being killed by a much bigger Dick. Then again, director Gary Fleder (Don't Say a Word) treats the deceptively strong material with contempt, creating a fast paced, flashy, B sci-fi flick. He stretches the intriguing ideas into a blur of dead ends and persists with awfully distracting camera work and hyperkinetic editing. Why settle for one camera angle when you can cut rapidly between five? The jump-cuts, flashbacks, strobe lights and jarring perspectives almost become too much - it certainly might be for sufferers of epilepsy. It creates a fair amount of B-movie excitement as characters run through darkened tunnels, fight off various strange attackers and evade elaborate surveillance technologies, but it has no class. It plays like a sped-up mish-mash of things we've seen before in Blade Runner, Total Recall, Robocop and The Running Man - and what we'll soon see in Minority Report. To its credit, Impostor does pose timely questions about warfare and surveillance, man and machine, the individual and the state, love and humanity against order and militarism. Production designer Nelson Coates creates a futuristic, fascist world from what surely was a low production budget, and I love the torture device called The Vivisector. The always interesting Gary Sinise gets to flex his muscles, continually slipping from D'Onforio's grip, and Madaleine Stowe finds herself in similar territory to the skeptical love interest she played to Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys. This could easily have gone straight to video - it sure won't stay in cinemas for more than a few weeks. But it's edgy, fast-paced, and if you don't take it too seriously, a lot of fun. It's just a pity that Fleder can't manage to raise the great film that lies beneath the surface. Philip K. Dick , after all, should be left to the best. Bring on Spielberg and Minority Report.
Impostor is not to be confused with comedy The Impostors (1998), written, directed and starring Stanley Tucci.
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THE IMPOSTORS (1998)
CAST: Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Elizabeth Pena,
Mekhi Phifer, Tony Shalhoub
PRODUCER: Gary Fleder, Cary Granat, Marty Katz, Daniel Lupi, Gary Sinise
DIRECTOR: Gary Fleder
SCRIPT: Scott Rosenberg, Caroline Case, Ehren Kruger, David N. Twohy (Story, Philip K. Dick)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Elswit
EDITOR: Bob Ducsay, Armen Minasian
MUSIC: Jeff Beal, Mark Isham
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nelson Coates
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 6, 2002