- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2002

"Impostor," the tackiest science-fiction thriller since "Ghosts of Mars," missed a preliminary opening date in August 2000. The wait for an optimum backup date should prove futile by Monday or so.
"Impostor" casts Gary Sinise as Spencer Olham, a weapons designer who inhabits a distant and war-torn future, circa 2079.
Ostensibly, Earthlings have been obliged to defend themselves for decades while bombarded and infiltrated by invaders from Alpha Centauri. Accused one hellish day of being a cyborg spy controlled by the dread ACs, the suddenly suspect Olham contrives a prompt, far-fetched escape and tries to prove his authenticity while on the lam.
As a practical matter, his flight requires doubling back to the vicinity of spouse Maya, a hospital administrator played by Madeleine Stowe, who looks as if she has thrown in the towel as a leading lady. Both the title and the movie's source material, a Philip K. Dick short story, may interfere with all but the most naive attempts to find the plot suspenseful and deceptive.
Previous exposure to so-called replicants in "Blade Runner" and "Total Recall" are likely to defuse the time bombs planted for Mr. and Mrs. Olham. The rule seems to hold that replicants are very slow to realize they aren't organic humans.
One of the credited screenwriters, Ehren Kruger, devised a more entertaining role for Mr. Sinise as a menace in John Frankenheimer's "Reindeer Games." Confirmed moviegoers also may recognize some leftover ruses and fuses from Mr. Kruger's doomsday thriller "Arlington Road."
The question of terrestrial survival seems to take a back seat to the issue that matters in a Hollywood context: Can the hero bond with a black supporting character? Mekhi Phifer draws this token sidekick's role as a mercenary from the bombed-out and slum-ridden 'hood, otherwise known as the Dead Zone.
Every so often, you're inclined to give the suffering script the benefit of a few doubts bacause the pictorial side of the movie is such a shambles that probably nothing could emerge untarnished or intact, anyway. Director Gary Fleder is an exponent of the murk-and-jerk school of chase melodrama, locating almost every sequence in noctural, steely blue settings that are monotonous eyesores, for starters.
When this tendency is accentuated by chronic twinging and flinching from hand-held cameras, the spasmodic murkiness is closer to eye abuse and a decisive argument for leaving "Impostor" to posterity. It deserves a place among the millennial rubbish once envisioned as hot stuff for paranoid moviegoers in the year 2000.

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