Director: David S. Goyer
Cast: Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Marquette, Alex O'Loughlin, Callum Keith Rennie
MPAA Rating: (for violence, criminality, sensuality and language - all involving teens)
Running Time: 1:37
Release Date: 4/27/07
Review by Mark Dujsik
I had to pinch myself midway through The Invisible just to remind myself that the movie held my attention early on with its mixture of the supernatural and teenage angst. Then it slowly prepares for a swan dive on both ends, wallowing in that angst to the point none of the characters are sympathetic and becoming just plain silly with its supernatural elements. The opening minutes of the movie are really good; the final twenty minutes are a perfect example of screenwriters giving up, throwing in every climactic cliché and topping it off with an ambiguous spiritual ending that's just downright absurd. Everything in between is a gradual descent from one end to the other. The movie is based on Mats Wahl's novel Den Osynlige and the 2002 Swedish film of the same name, and as directed by David S. Goyer, it's an unfortunate attempt at big ideas that devolves into unintentional comedy with steady regularity. Full of stiff performances, stupid characters, and an incredibly creepy and occasionally nauseating love story, The Invisible is at least consistently misguided.
The first minutes I referred to earlier involve Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin) at his graduation party. He's surrounded by his mother (Marcia Gay Harden, just reading her lines) and family friends. He walks into his father's den, and shoots himself with a shotgun. It's all a dream, of course, but it sets an uncomfortable tone and more than blatantly tells us this kid's got issues. His widowed mother has his life planned out for him, and it doesn't involve him going to London for a writing seminar like he really wants to. His best friend (although that's debatable as you'll see soon) Pete (Chris Marquette) has problems with a group of thugs led by the petite Annie Newton (Margarita Levieva), who's got problems of her own. Her dad and stepmother pay no regard to her or her little brother. So she hangs around with her boyfriend Marcus (Alex O'Loughlin) and gets involved in grand theft auto and jewelry theft. Thinking Annie's gone too far, Marcus rats to the cops, but Annie thinks Pete squealed. Thinking his best bud is out of the country, Pete tells Annie that Nick was the rat. She and her thugs beat Nick to the brink of death and dump his body in a storm drain in the woods.
Of course, Annie feels really, really guilty about the whole thing, and Nick's bummed 'cause he's now just a spirit, wandering the earth and spending all of his time yelling at anyone who can't listen. Are we supposed to sympathize with the smarmy, spoiled kid who yells at everyone? Or perhaps the girl who almost murders said kid? Or maybe the supposed best friend of the kid who rats him out just to save his own ass? But they all have problems, and they all love to make sure we know they have problems. There's no shortage of self-pity amongst these kids or emo songs on the soundtrack. Meanwhile, a detective (Callum Keith Rennie) is on the case, and he spends most of his time gawking at girls in the pool and not questioning the weaselly Pete, who'd probably crack in about two minutes. If the cops in this movie had any sense of responsibility, they'd turn in their badges and guns immediately. In one of the movie's funniest scenes, Annie escapes six armed police officers by climbing a bridge and running away; the cops just stand there. This kind of humor is juxtaposed by a genuinely and intentionally amusing moment where the ghost Nick tries to kill himself.
When he's not yelling or failing to make any impact on the world around him (he tries to destroy things, but when the camera turns around him, it's as though nothing happened), he's a really creepy specter. He watches Annie dance, stands outside while she showers, falls asleep next to her (yes, apparently ghosts fall asleep), and I must remind you at this point that this is the girl that bashed his skull, dumped his body, and left him for dead. I promised myself I'd find a way to slap this movie upside the head if it turned into a love story; the sad thing is it almost does. He follows Annie to her mother's grave and tells her, "Sometimes I wish my mom was dead instead of my dad." No, that doesn't help garner sympathy for him either. Justin Chatwin spends most of this movie with a blank stare, and when he states his realization that Annie can somehow hear him, we expect him to follow up with a jovial "I'm awesome!" Margarita Levieva is better off, although how someone thought she'd make a credible hooligan is a mystery. The reasoning for her character becoming involved in a shootout and car chase late in the movie, though, should be clearer.
The only further proof necessary that Mick Davis and Christine Roum's script is out of ideas is a priceless glimpse of Nick looking absolutely baffled when he finally gets Annie to his body. I'm glad the audience isn't the only one with no clue what's happening. It starts so well, but when The Invisible ends, that beginning is a fleeting memory.
Copyright © 2007 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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