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Impostor (2002) – DVD Review

impostor dvd cover


Written by: Caroline Case, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick
Directed by: Gary Fleder
Starring: Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Mekhi Phifer


  1. Featurette: The Impostor Files
  2. Original short film
  3. Theatrical Trailer

Released by: Dimension
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes, no impostor here.

My Advice: Wait for cable.

Spense Olham (Sinise) is having the worst day of his life. It starts out well with some early morning lovemaking with his wife Maya (Stowe). As he contemplates the planet-buster he designed to turn the tide of war against the Centauri (i.e. the enemy), he is stunned and apprehended by Major Hathaway (D’Onofrio). Bound to a chair, he is told by Hathaway that he isn’t Spense Olham, but a Centauri biological android that was made to mimic Olham, infiltrate itself into his life, then explode the bomb it is carrying at its target. Olham thinks Hathaway is insane and after seeing a recording of an android being eviscerated to defuse its bomb, he promptly escapes. Made Public Enemy #1, he hides out in the slums of the city and makes a reluctant ally in Cale (Phifer). They plan to sneak into a hospital to get the proof Olham need to show he is not an…Impostor.

[ad#longpost]Philip K. Dick, while not the easiest read, has been the impetus for some successful film adaptations (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report). This is not one of them. The plot holes are a big issue. When Olham is captured, he is rendered unconscious. When he wakes up, Hathaway verbally spars with him then unstraps him from the chair and has him dragged to the vivisect machine, when he escapes. Come on! If I were Hathaway, I would simply get into the Human Vegamatic Machine while he was still out of it—what is he, a Bond villain? And of course this engineer can do effective battle, armed and unarmed, with trained soldiers. Please! If you’re going to insult my intelligence, at least make the experience fun enough so I don’t care.

The only fun I had was D’Onofrio’s performance. His Hathaway is manic and quirky: imagine his character on Law & Order: Criminal Intent if he had taken a massive amount of cocaine. Unfortunately, the rest is anemic. Phifer gives us a recycled version of Han Solo, Sinise looks constipated, and Stowe doesn’t give anything. The director has some blame to take as well. He is far too fond of slow motion and flashbacks. And the unnecessary introduction exposition is made worse by blatantly using destruction footage from Armageddon.

The extras, besides the ubiquitous trailer, reveal more about the making of the film. Impostor was planned to be one part of a trilogy of science fiction stories (the project was called Alien Love Triangle) that died in development. The decision was made to expand the Impostor segment to feature length. The making-of featurette talks about this and the design concept behind the look of the film. But it still comes off a very long commercial. They do include the original short film and this was a mistake. It shows how much they had to add to make this thing over ninety minutes. It is the first and last parts of the theatrical release. You feel that they cut the short in half and poured in all this filler to lengthen the story. Frankly, wait until it shows up on the Sci-Fi Channel with the rest of the low budget, ill-conceived sci-fi flicks.

Gary Sinise and Madeleine Stowe from Impostor

Vincent D'Onofrio from Impostor

Buy Stuff
  1. Click here to buy it from Amazon.
  2. Click here to buy the story (in a collection) from Amazon.