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Impostor
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2002
Facts first. "Impostor" is based on P.K. Dick's short story and its cast include familiar faces in this sci-fi genre; Gary Sinise appeared in "Mission to Mars": Vincent D'Onofrio in "Men in Black": Madeleine Stowe in "12 Monkeys" and Tony Shalhoub in "Galaxy Quest" and "Men in Black" again. Typecast? You may think. Forget it, and watch the names of director and writers.
Gary Fleder is famous for the gripping thriller "Kiss the Girls" but more impressive names are Ehren Kruger and David Twohy. Kruger is responsible for "Scream 3" "Reindeer Games" and that shocker "Arlington Road," and of course Twohy is a guy behind the camera of "Pitch Black." Now you know what I am going to say. "Impostor" is very an unsettling movie, to say the least.
And the original short story was written by P.K. Dick, master of creating an authentic view on the future world. The film version respects that merit, and in the first three minutes throws you into the world at a devastating war with aliens in the shortest way. After that, the film follows the protagonist, a scientist Spencer (Sinise), who, without his knowing, got involved in a plot whose nature should remain secret here. As a result, Spencer runs away in a "Fugitive" fashion to prove the truth, hiding from the government agent (D'Onofrio) who is obsessed with hunting down every suspect in an uncompromising way. Here the director Fleder keeps a good, fast pace from the surprising opening to the end, grabbing your attention throughout the movie. The producion designs that realize the bleak future world (including a hospital where Stowe's character works, or ID system that recongize you anywhere you go) are, if familiar, very impressive visually. Though the idea itself is not particularly new, the director guides you skillfully through the maze of the future world.
This film has already been released theatrically in Japan with the title "Clone" in the autumn of 2001, and is originally based on a short film Fleder is said to have made. Dimention Films first commissioned omnibus short sci-fi films from three directors, and one of them was Fleder's. The company was so happy about his segment that they made it a feature film, which turned out to be "Impostor." As this production history suggests, "Impostor" suffers a little from the prolonged middle-section. The episodes about stealing medicines, or unlikely friendship between a bounty hunter (Mekhi Phifer) and Spencer seems a bit contrived though still engaging in their ways. And you may think that underrated Shalhoub is wasted again in a relatively minor role.
However, as a whole I am satisfied with this adaptation of the sci-fi master P.K. Dick, and if you are interested in his name (or anyone involved in the film), have a look. It is worth that. But beware: this is not a film for everybody's taste.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 18, 2006
I had never heard of this film until I rented it, then purchased it after watching. Originally it was to be a 40 minute film tied together with 2 others to make one giant film about the relationship between humans and aliens. The story was then expanded upon to make it a feature all by itself. The story taken from an excellent short story from Philip K Dick, involves a not to distant future earth at war with an alien race we never really see. Earth cities are protected by domes as the aliens seek a way to get to us. This leads to a paranoid society trying to do anything to protect itself. Sinise is excellent in his role as he takes us on one adventure after another as he tries to prove to the authorities that he is not an alien plant. The twist ending was also a plus for the movie. The pciture is not perfect, and the extras suck, but this one is a good watch.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2012
This is a really top notch SF movie, love story, loyal friendships, somewhat believable plot line, great bad guys which are just us in years to come, very unpredictable end and fast paced throughout. The kind you can watch again without getting tired of it, wonderful acting, particularly Gary Sinise
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2003
Impostor was the first of 2002's futuristic thrillers (the other two being Minority Report and Equilibrium) and it's also easily the weakest, which is no surprise when you consider this is essentially nothing more than a blown-up short film. Not surprisingly, the critics were harsh on this one, and while many of the complaints are valid, Impostor is still a bit better than its reputation.
Impostor is set sometime in the future, a time where humans are at war with a powerful alien race. Gary Sinise stars as Spence Olham, a dedicated husband (wife played by the lovely Madeleine Stowe) and scientist who has crafted the ultimate superweapon to battle the aliens, but upon its completion, is accused of being a synthetically created alien cyborg with a bomb in his chest that's set to go off when he reaches his prime target. Now on the run, Olham struggles to prove his innocence before it's too late.
Impostor's concept, that of a seemingly normal man accused of being a replicant, is a fascinating one, but it's unfortunately drowned by director Gary Fleder's obsession with shaky camera movements and quick cuts. The screenplay can also take partial blame for the lack of genuine theme, since it spends more time placing Olham on the run that exploring the possibilities of his predicament (be it from an action or thematic standpoint). The question of identity and what it means to be human is never fully addressed and only touched upon briefly.
Given the back story behind the film's production, it's not surprising to see the film struggle for more plot around the half-hour mark. It's basically just one long chase, and for a supporting cast, we're introduced to an underground homeless group fighting for survival in the ruins outside the cities (the similarities to Johnny Mneumonic in this respect are bothersome). Compelling, this material is not.
But heavily flawed as the film is, the cast is solid, with Sinise delivering yet again another terrific performance. If there's any reason to care about Olham's situation, it's entirely because of Sinise. Decent support from the likes of Vincent D'onofrio, Madeleine Stowe, and Mekhi Phifer (looking like a young Keith David, might I add) keep things afloat and just interesting enough to hold my attention.
With a relatively modest budget (40M), there are some rather convincing special effects (barring the opening sequence, which actually borrows footage from Armageddon and Starship Troopers), as well as some genuinely awe-inspiring cityscapes. Fleder's quick-cuts keep Impostor from attaining the first-rate thrills it aspires for, but the film's fast pace ensures it's never dull and there are even a few exciting action sequences (most notably the hospital fight/chase). But best of all is the climactic plot twist, a no-holds barred surprise that boosts the film up a notch, even if it's resolved in somewhat head-scratching fashion. As a whole, the movie is middling, but there are enough inspired moments to make for a decent timewaster.
** 1/2 out of *****
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 12, 2007
Sci fi author, Philip K. Dick has made a one of the most significant contributions to sci fi on film. Just for starters, here's a partial list from IMDB:

"Next" (Based on "The Golden Man")
"Paycheck"
"Minority Report"
"Total Recall 2070"
"Blade Runner"
"Total Recall"

In addition, there are two more of Dick's novels being committed to film. "Radio Free Albermuth" debuts next year. "The Owl in Daylight" will be coming out in 2009.

"Impostor" takes us to Earth 2079. We have been at war with Centauri for years and nothing seems to be capable of stopping the invaders.

Spencer Olham (Gary Sinise) used to build rockets as a kid til his father died on the front against the Centauri. Now, he builds weapons and he's darn good at it.

Problem is, the ESA (Earth Security Agency) thinks Olham is an impostor cyborg and he's carrying a Centauri bomb in his heart. He's arrested and manages to escape, desperately trying to prove with a PET scan that he is himself and not a weapon.

"Impostor" is basically a breathless chase through a dystopic Earth. Gary Sinise does a great job playing the inventor on the run. Kudos also to Madeline Stowe, who is his physician wife, Maya. The best tribute I can offer to the two of them is that they are pretty much what I envisaged of Stewart and Dr. maya Olham when I read the short story in the first place.

If you are a fan of Philip K. Dick, you may well want to add this film to your collection. It's very much worth more than one viewing for subtle nuances. I think the cast and crew really did do the author proud.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
...Gary does a great job in a somewhat limited story which is supposed to take place in the 2070s.
It's a dystopian story written by the great Science fiction writer, Phillip Dick 50 years ago-- a story particularly relevant in light of the new responses to security the government is instituting after 9/11.
We find a very happy Gary Sinese coming back from a weekend vacation in the woods, out of the "energy dome" which projects their city from attacks by the enemy of humans, the alien Centaurians. We see Gary making PG-13 love ( a sure sign of increasing celebrity) to his wife. Then he goes to work, and then all hell breaks lose when he is accused of being a spy clone.
The rest of the story is about him trying to prove he's the real person he claims he is. We encounter technologies in 2070 that are, for the most part already available on a limited basis now-- DNA scans, identity implants, randomly placed facial recognition crowd scanners--- But in this world, these are all commonplace.
The movie was inspired by a short story and it feels that way, with minimal character development.
If you like high tech chase stories (not car chases) then you might enjoy this. For me, it was a nice change from the recent fantasy fare (Shrek, Lord of the Rings) which I enjoy, but those don't have the "edge" of hard science fiction. This was pretty classic genre material, with aliens, good and bad officials, a hero in trouble. There's a twist ending that's a bit limp.
I might have given this less stars, but SF is so rare anymore, ...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2002
"Here was my first story on the topic of: Am I a human? Or am I just programmed to believe I am human? When you consider that I wrote this back in 1953, it was, if I may say so, a pretty damn good new idea in sf. Of course, by now I've done it to death. But the theme still preoccupies me. It's an important theme because it forces us to ask: What is a human? And -- what isn't." -- Philip K. Dick
When Philip K. Dick wrote "The Impostor" in 1953, the United States was at the height of McCarthyism, when communism was a great threat to our government, who, in turn, sought to weed out those in favor of the communist ideals. His short story is very much like that dark period in our nation's history, employing the same premise with a science fiction twist. His many works have made their way to the silver screen in the past decades, with such futuristic extravaganzas as "Total Recall" and "Blade Runner," and even still keep popping up here and there as time moves on.
And now we have "Impostor," a movie which seems to capture the essence of the above quote by Dick with its all-too-familiar territory. At the time of its publication, the story could be looked at as fresh and inviting; as a movie in the new millennium, when the science fiction genre has become one of the most repetitive and redundant of all movie types, it seems like another run-of-the-mill futuristic thriller with lots of running that treads on the notion of whether or not its main character is who he says he is.
And yet, the film's plot is still just as intriguing as the story on which it is based. Set in 2079, where Earth is in constant battle with the alien race Centauri, the planet is little more than a war zone, where dome-protected cities are surrounded by endless vistas of devastated wastelands. Living in one of these cold, metallic communities is Spencer John Olham (Gary Sinise), a weapons specialist who is hunted down by the Earth Security Agency and accused of being a member of the Centauri. Despite his reassurance that he is being falsely targeted, the E.S.A. continues with their plan to extract the bomb supposedly hidden within Spencer's heart, at which point he breaks free and becomes a fugitive out to prove his innocence.
Had "The Impostor" been made into a film in earlier years, it may have been a bigger success. I think the failure of this movie to generate much interest in audiences stems from the well-worn paths that thrillers and the sci-fi genre have trodden even before the publication of Dick's story. The accusations made against Spencer, as well as his plight to prove himself to authorities, can de linked directly to "The Fugitive," while aliens who infiltrate Earth by posing as humans was done years ago in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Those not well acquainted with the short story or the author's works will find themselves at a loss.
But, for those of us who have experienced "Impostor" with a knowledge of the author's themes and tactics, the film takes on a much bigger challenge of effectively creating the sense of paranoia and intensity so lovingly bestowed in the source material. For the most part, the film succeeds in doing just that, its futuristic appearance evoking a cold, stony dread that adds to the sense of claustrophobia as Spencer desperately searches for proof of his innocence. Settings such as the labyrinthine hospital, the underground tunnels, the "Star War"-like city structures, all add to the unease one feels as the story unfolds its mystery.
Director Gary Fleder, who spun an intricate web in "Kiss the Girls" and served up serviceable thrills in last year's "Don't Say A Word," directs the material with a certain degree of energy needed to keep us involved in the story, while also giving the central mystery just enough appeal to intrigue us. Gary Sinise portrays Spencer just as he should be: as a human being that we come to care about and understand, his performance enriching the film's question of whether or not he is who he says, or rather believes, he is.
The film's supporting cast is first-rate, and though much of the film is spent with Sinise, the performances are worth mentioning. The vastly-underrated Madeleine Stowe makes an appearance as Spencer's wife, Maya, convincing us of her grief over being torn between her husband and the law. Vincent D'Onofrio plays an E.S.A. agent out to retrieve Spencer with an earnestness and hardcore approach that is stellar, while Mekhi Phifer's performance as an outsider who aides Spencer back into the city is short-lived but commendable.
As a result of the familiar plot devices that are no fault of its own, "Impostor" doesn't have the edge needed to make it a perfect movie. But I'd be lying if I said that it weren't an interesting adaptation of a wonderfully mystifying short story; in truth, the movie manages to capture the essence of what Dick hoped to deliver, and does so in a manner that deserves more praise than it has received.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2004
There is something insidious about a PKD plot. Many of them lend themselves to movie adaptation - for instance Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner), We can remember it for you wholesale (Total Recall) and of course Minority Report. It's been 30 years since I read the story, but it was still pretty fresh in my mind. The script seems to stick pretty close to what PKD wrote, and that may be the problem. It distresses me to admit that a movie can go wrong by being too faithful to the story on which it is based, but that seems to have happened here. The lack of insight into the protagonist's feelings and thought processes limits the empathy you can feel for him, so the plot ends up as a kind of telescoped futuristic "The Fugitive". Gary Sinise does what he can with the lead role, with Madeleine Stowe even more muted as his wife. The two most colourful characters are Vincent D'Onofrio as the ambivalent Major Hathaway of Security, and Mekhi Phifer as the streetwise Cale.

Bottom line - this is a story set in 2075 but written in about 1960, and that harms its credibility. Our surveillance techniques today are just about as good as those in Impostor - surely a dictatorship locked in a life-and-death struggle with merciless aliens, 70 years in the future, could do better when it comes to tracking a runaway? Perhaps a little more explanation and less high-speed, hard-to-follow action would have helped. When all is said and done, it's still a pleasure to follow the precise mechanism of PKD's scenario as it works itself out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2002
Didn't know what to expect when I saw this movie, but I am a Gary Sinese fan and enjoy his work.
I was not disappointed. It keeps you thinking and changing your mind throughout.
If you are looking for a good sci-fi flick with a great ending, then this is one to watch.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2007
Its not up there with the quintessential PKD film adaptation Blade Runner but I'm not sure how this slipped through the cracks when compared to Minority Report, Total Recall, Paycheck or Screamers where it easily holds its own. As with all these others, the story line sets a rapid pace, is thought prevoking and concludes with surprising ending with a wonderful twist. Its not got the extravagent hi tech effects of some of the others but a good cast and story line make this less of an issue. Well worth the effort.
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