What do you get when you cross The Sixth Sense with Ghost? Well, probably something that looks like The Invisible, but stars Bruce Willis and Whoopi Goldberg. You know, that probably would have been a better movie. Instead we actually get The Invisible, a dullard of a film populated with a cast that is easy not to like.
There were a number of things to like about the movie, but with characters that I did not care for, it was hard to be entertained. Now I don't need a movie to have likable characters, but some movies need them — you need someone to identify with, and this one failed to deliver.
If you have seen the trailer, you have an idea of what the movie is about. High school student Nick Powell is attacked and left for dead, and now Nick is stuck in a state of limbo where he has to solve his own murder in order to live again. Sure, the concept is a little out there, but it is one that could prove to be very interesting. Director David S. Goyer injects some nice visual touches, but the characters and their development are too weak to truly carry the concept anywhere. The story never really takes off, and never comes together in any logical fashion. The characters are mere sketches of people, there more to propel the plot then to inhabit the world.
We are introduced to Nick, an apparently gifted poet who makes money on the side by selling term papers to the school jocks. He is an angst-filled rich kid whose father died when he was young and who has a standoffish, cold mother who doesn't listen to him. Why should I like this guy? Is it because he stuck up for his broke friend who bought a stolen cell phone from the school underachiever? Because his mommy doesn't listen to him? He is just an annoying kid that I have no reason to connect with, much less when his limbo land adventures kick in.
As the story flows, we meet Nick, his lower income buddy Pete, and the slacker/thief Annie Newton. These characters form the primary troika that move the story along. As that story goes, Annie robs a jewelry store while her mechanic boyfriend steals a car. Being a little upset that she didn't listen to him, he calls the cops on her and she is arrested. Annie thinks Pete was the guy who told, he says it was Nick, and Nick is beaten and left for dead. Nick, now in limbo land, has to figure out he is a limbo citizen and then find himself before he really does die.
Now, first off, with friends like Pete, who needs enemies? Annie is given a little humanization through her rough home life where she acts as guardian to her little brother from their rather rotten parents. Sounds like I'm describing the average episode of Boston Public. Again, why am I supposed to care about these characters?
As I was leaving the theater I stopped to talk to a friend who works at the box office; he told me that a few people came out and told him that it was a good movie but you had to pay attention in order to "get it." Huh? Were we watching the same movie? This was not hard to get at all — the hard part was trying to like it. Besides the unlikable characters, the script went through some gymnastics to get everyone into place and fails to explain, or give adequate surrounding information, why some things happen. I am mainly speaking of the climactic scene involving Annie and Nick; it seems to change the rules, or at least skip a few steps along the way.
As poor as the story is, as hurry up and wait as Mick Davis and Christine Roum's script is, Goyer makes a valiant effort at making it at least visually interesting. Now Goyer is still a rather inexperienced director, and while he does show potential, his writing still leads his directing ability by a wide margin. I would have liked to have seen what his script may have been like, proving his worth, to me, with work on films such as Dark City, Blade, and Batman Begins.
There are many scenes throughout that I really liked. I liked the long single takes where we see Nick interacting with the environment followed by the reveal that all was just as it was, showing that he actually did nothing. They are all done in a single take, although I presume that cuts are hidden in the swish pans; still they are interesting, if perhaps overused, scenes. I also liked the reveal of the Annie beneath her all-black wardrobe in the club scene, with Nick looking on. Also, the whole sequence with Annie and her boyfriend on the cliff was visually arresting. Justin Chatwin did a decent job in the reveal of Nick's nature, the scene with the bird. Until the final line, that was a very good example of "show, don't tell" filmmaking.
The Invisible is a remake of the Swedish film Den Osynlige, which was based on the novel of the same name. I can only wonder how successful the original film was at creating a sympathetic hero, and how the reveals are made there. I guess I am going to have to track down the original film now.
Bottom line. I had hopes for this one. I liked the trailer, I liked the concept, and I liked the director. However, the story execution is poor, supporting cast is poor/underused, and everything did not come together in a satisfying conclusion. Still, there were a couple of things to like about it, but nothing to make it a must-see on the big screen.