Sunday, October 21, 2007


Nicholas Powell (Justin Chatwin; Tom Cruise’s son in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, and undercover cop Eddie on Lost) is a smart and promising honour student just a few days away from graduation. But a confluence of unfortunate events involving his mother Diane (Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, soon to be seen in Frank Darabont‘s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist), his best friend Pete (Joan of Arcadia’s Chris Marquette), and school miscreant Annie Newton (Margarita Levieva; TV’s Vanished), results in a tragedy that causes Nicholas to return, unseen and unheard by others, no longer able to physically interact with the world around him. And even as Nicholas gradually discovers how he ended up like this, Detective Brian Larson (Callum Keith Rennie; Leoben from Battlestar Galactica) tries to get to the truth of Nicholas’ disappearance.

Based on the novel and film Den Osynlige, The Invisible is directed by David S. Goyer, someone who I know is both capable of kicking my a$$ (with his scripts for Dark City, Blade II, and Batman Begins), and disappointing me tremendously (writing Blade, and writing and directing Blade: Trinity). He’s also capable of coming up with some interesting television (the sadly short-lived Threshold) and some not-so-interesting television (Blade: The Series).
With The Invisible, Goyer does get some things right, though the great film this could have been manages to elude his grasp.

It’s fortunate that Goyer lucks out on some key casting choices, among them, Chatwin and Harden. Chatwin’s performance as the young man who is finally finding the courage to defy parental authority only to have fate deal him a very strange hand, is balanced beautifully by the apparently cold and distant maternal figure played wonderfully by Harden.
Goyer’s cinematographer, Gabriel Beristain, also succeeds in capturing some interesting imagery. (Beristain also shot Guillermo Del Toro’s Blade II and Hideo Nakata’s The Ring Two, and can be seen playing himself in Zak Penn’s entertaining faux documentary Incident at Loch Ness.)

Sadly though, the film feels a little longish, and we get to spend a little too much time witnessing characters seemingly ready to do everything but the right thing. Much of The Invisible is a testament to the weakness of the human spirit, as people manage to disappoint Nicholas at every turn.
With at least one relationship, Goyer and scriptwriters Mick Davis and Christine Roum, fail to get us to sympathize with the character, while only barely succeeding with another. Most of the time, I found myself getting aggravated and annoyed with the people on-screen, fully understanding Nicholas’ tumult of feelings. How bone-headed could these people be?!
The final scene then left me with the feeling that a number of issues remained unresolved even as the end credits began to roll. As moving as some scenes were, The Invisible in its entirety doesn’t quite gel together as well as I’d hoped.

Curiously, it almost seems as if Goyer and company were aiming to find a balance between a cerebral art house experience (where one would ponder things like the intimacy between attacker and victim, the nature of atonement, and the alienation and isolation of the youth) and an emotional Hollywood button-pusher (with its preponderance of Modern Rock Moments where tracks by Kill Hannah, Death Cab For Cutie, and Snow Patrol, play during key scenes, most of which occur in MTV slow-mo).
The mix just doesn’t work here though, and while some scenes seem blatantly manipulative (and are thus ultimately ineffective), others seem devoid of any honest emotion, causing one to think—just as Nicholas voices out more than once in the film—“We don’t have time for this.”

It’s sad that I found Goyer wanting on this. Admittedly, this is a sight better than Blade: Trinity, but somehow, The Invisible doesn’t completely deliver.
Having never read nor seen Den Osynlige, I have no way of knowing how close (or distant) Goyer’s version is to either. If it’s one thing though that’s come out of my partial dissatisfaction with The Invisible, it’s that I am now more curious than ever to check out Den Osynlige.
Maybe then, seeing those other, earlier versions of the tale—in a curious parallel of Nicholas’ cinematic journey—I’ll better understand some of the choices Goyer made with The Invisible. And with any luck, I’ll come to appreciate it more.

(The Invisible OS courtesy of; DVD cover art courtesy of

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