Jaq Sees The Invisible: Seeing What Isn't There
by Jaq Greenspon
April 30, 2007
Is it wrong to start a review by saying "it didn't suck?" I just wanted to get that out of the way right now. The Invisible was not a bad film. It could have been better, sure, but then, what couldn't? I'm jumping the gun a bit, though, so let me back track.
The film is based on a Swedish novel and has been gathering dust on a Hollywood Pictures shelf for at least a year (the 2006 graduation banner is a dead giveaway). The story is simple: A series of misunderstandings leaves Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin), a high school senior, near death. He is so close to the afterlife, he's actually crossed over and now must make sure his dying body is discovered in order to save his life. The only problem? The one person who can save him, Annie (Margarita Levieva), is also the one who put him there to begin with. As the movie progresses, we learn more about both characters and they learn, through benefit of being "invisible," that their perceptions of themselves and the people around them are not exactly how they appear on the surface. In that sense, the film is an ambitious project, trying to show the alienation of high school and how the loss of a parent early in one's life can have far reaching and varied effects.
Unfortunately, Director David S. Goyer tries to do this in the guise of a thriller and ends up with a product which doesn't deserve its fate. Goyer, who is better known as a writer, should have known better than to let The Invisible go before the cameras without cleaning up the script. The man responsible for the Blade trilogy and 2005's Batman Begins just lets this one get away from him with some seriously sloppy story-telling. The plot aspects of finding Nicholas' body is hampered by contrivances a first year creative writing student could have fixed with a 10-minute rewrite.
And I think, in microcosm, this is the problem with the modern Hollywood machine. The Invisible has some wonderful elements. Justin Chatwin and Margarita Levieva as Nicholas and Annie have some nice chemistry and both have a solid, if not superstar, future. Additionally, it was refreshing to see a film where some of the characters make stupid choices and not all of the heroes make it out alive. On the other hand, though, when crucial plot elements are arbitrarily used to build tension in one minute and then changed completely for convenience sake barely 90 seconds later, even those in the audience who just want to "enjoy the film without thinking too much about it" breathe a heavy sigh of exasperation. In other words, the filmmakers need to stop treating the audience as if they were idiots. Films seem to be rushed into production without thought and then dumped on the public as a loss leader a week ahead of higher profile films. That's not fair. It's not fair to us or to films which should have been better. The Invisible is one of those films.
Had the writers, Mick Davis and Christine Roum, taken more time to fill in the plot holes and had Goyer taken a more active role in the script development, this could have been a classic film, a thriller version of Say Anything, instead it's little more than a pre-summer diversion that will get lost in the budgetary write-off dump.