Film Reviews

The Invisible David Goyer

Rating - 4/10

There's something to be said about the power of persuasion.

I found myself, like many others I knew, thoroughly involved in the plight of those in The Invisible. I admit, it wasn't groundbreaking, but it was a perky little thriller that played itself out well. And like most teen flicks, it quickly evaporated from the mind as soon as it was over; only in The Invisible's case, not quite how it should have. First I forgot what was good about the ending, then the beginning. Bit by bit, the film fell apart at its seams with plot holes, turns in logic, and characterization jumping out like knots in unraveling yarn. Three days after, I was left wondering why I liked the film at all. I can only chalk it up to the fact that the film is so sincere in its aspirations to be more than it ultimately is that this charmed me. I feel used.

18-year-old Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin) is a "golden boy," one that seems to have it all with his future planned out and toying with favoritism with his elders. His widowed mother Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) is cold and detached and is willing to sacrifice her relationship with her only son to see his future mapped out the way he wants. When a series of events lands Nick in sight of Annie Newton (Margarita Levieva) who believes Nick snitched her out to the police for a robbery, Annie seeks her revenge by beating Nick close to death and, figuring she could be charged for murder, stashes Nick's body. And Nick wakes up the next just to realize that no one can see or hear him. When he touches and moves objects, there is no consequence to his actions. Nick soon realizes that his spirit is free to roam as long as his body is wavers between life and death.

This is more threadbare on screen than it is on paper and it shows. Characters do things normal people wouldn't even in the realm of fantasy (which, ironically, is what the film is trying to persuade us it's not), while emotions are spelled out through dialogue when they're presented to the audience on silver platters via musical cues and facial expressions. Director David Goyer obviously doesn't trust his actors, and in time, neither do we. Justin Chatwin (of recent War of the Worlds fame) is the best aspect of The Invisible. He's cool and collected, as Nick, presenting him as a troubled but forgiving soul that, as a spirit, never falters into hysterics. When he does scream out in rage, it's from his frustration and not being able to communicate to those around him when a simple sentence could bring him back to life.

Newcomer Margarita Levieva is a mixed bag as wayward punk Annie. Annoying and a mere gimmick as a rebellious punk at the film's beginning, Levieva is unconvincing and sends every scene she's in to a jolting halt; when she strips off her rough exterior, letting her hair down (literally), Levieva comes into her own and breathes life into a lifeless character. We start to care, and it's not a second too soon. In a thankless supporting role, Marcia Gay Harden is the weakest of the bunch, being at once too reserved and too over-the-top, both in her detachment that it's a relief when she finally is allowed to break down. What does it say about the film that the most effective scene in the film belongs to the worst performer of the film?

But where the film falters most is in its overwrought direction, as characters act out in rage when simple explanations would resolve any conflict that happens as a result and where police officers, monotone and tough, condescend grieving mothers after they just lost their child as if it's their fault. Sure, it could be a speculation, but would you tell a sobbing mother that she doesn't even know her own child? There must be some protocol against this. And where the film begins with a bang (a four minute, edit free shot of Nick at his graduation party standing up, mangling a cake that is printed with his face, and walking downstairs to commit suicide), it slowly deteriorates for a predictable and mushy ending (what was once a clever plot point becomes a gimmick to give a character her redemption; it's a well-acted scene but fails in light of what was smart about the subplot). Not to mention the film's overdone but meaningful subtext of life in upper class suburbia (Nick's state as a ghost could very well be a metaphor for the isolation he feels amongst a crowd of people that surround him but don't listen), but it's lost on its way to the finish line.

If the recent success of Disturbia is any indication, The Invisible will have no trouble making a profit. Teens will likely to identify with the muddled themes of isolation, and maybe even take a few thrills from the film (though this is highly unlikely), but unlike the much better and smarter Disturbia, The Invisible can't follow through on its promises. Like a mesh of Ghost and American Beauty without the chemistry of the former or the smarts and boldness of the latter, The Invisible is just a lifeless thriller that makes its title as ambiguous as it is appropriate.

How's that for power of persuasion.