The year is 2079. The planet Earth is at war with aliens from Alpha Centari, and Earth is losing the battle. In order to restore peace to a troubled world, renowned scientist Spencer Olham, played by Gary Sinise, has developed an ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Yes, a more brilliant strategy for interstellar peace has seldom been conceived, but that isn't what this movie is about. The real story is that Earth Security Agents, led by Vincent D'Onofrio, are convinced that Spencer is actually a killer cyborg replicant of Spencer, programmed to explode when it meets with Earth's Chancellor!
If the concept of a troubled, late 21st century world filled with replicants sounds familiar, it's because Impostor is based on a short story by noted science fiction scribe Philip K. Dick, best known for Blade Runner. The basic plotline here is that Spencer, claiming innocence, escapes from the Security Agents who then chase him around for the remainder of the film. In between chases, Spencer searches for the one-armed man, er, I mean verification of his true identity. You see, even if Spencer were a replicant, he wouldn't know it.
Impostor's plot details had me constantly wondering, 'Why?'. Why wouldn't the Security Agents hold Spencer in a location that was, well, secure? If the Agents believed Spencer to be a cyborg, why didn't they treat him like one instead of messing about with psychological torture tactics? Why didn't the Agents simply kill him while they had the chance? Why don't the Security Agents know about the routine test that Spencer claims can prove he isn't a replicant? And if Spencer is a replicant, why didn't the Centarians program him to be aware of his deadly mission? Why wouldn't the Centarians provide him with any defensive capabilities? Why didn't it occur to them that replicating Spencer's identity implant, which allows the agents to track him, might be a bad idea? Why didn't anyone realize that there isn't a single shred of logic to Impostor's screenplay? The answer to these questions, and many others, is that if they did, there wouldn't be a movie!
In fact, even the world portrayed in this film is utterly pointless and without reason. Unlike Blade Runner, Impostor never provides a decent setting for it's unlikely events to take place. Instead of being swept into a wonderously believable 21st century environment, we're only witness to Spencer's trek through various examples of cheap set design and poorly conceived futuristic props, interrupted occasionally by panning shots of cities and spacecraft which look suspiciously like deleted scenes from Titan A.E. Oh, how lucky to be in the audience for this one! I've seen more believable special effects produced with a mini-cam and a well thrown frisbee.
I've also seen much better acting from Gary Sinise, Tony Shalhoub, and especially Vincent D'Onofrio. While Sinise and Shalhoub appear to practice the 'less-is-more' style of acting, D'Onofrio is so over the top that he must have believed he was in a completely different movie! The dialogue exchanges which result from this are often unintentionally humorous, but never very memorable. In fact, the only concept in this film memorable to the annals of science fiction history may be Impostor's incredibly idiotic placement of television view screens. Who the heck does director Gary Fleder think he is, Paul Verhoeven? It seems another identity check may be required!
So, if you find yourself craving a story about the future gone awry, full of interesting and thought provoking ideas concerning guilt and innocence, identity, and the search for one's true self, you should wait for Steven Spielberg's Minority Report, or watch Blade Runner or Total Recall. All three of these films are based on stories by Phillip K. Dick. Oh, and if you hadn't already guessed, stay as far away from Impostor as humanly possible. Why? Because if you do, there won't be a sequel!!!