The Invisible (2007)
“How do you solve a murder when the victim is you?”
Director: David S. Goyer
Cast: Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Marcia Gay Harden
Synopsis: A teenager is left invisible to the living after an attack.
Based on a 2002 Swedish movie, David S. Goyer’s fantasy-drama The Invisible has at its core a neat idea, but saddles it with a surfeit of plot holes which ask way too much of its audience in terms of suspension of disbelief. It also fails to provide us with a likeable character — its male lead is something of a creep while the female lead is a borderline psychopath who undergoes an astounding — and absurd — 180 degree turn during the course of the movie. Despite its insurmountable flaws, however, The Invisible just about manages to keep our interest thanks to that intriguing premise and an alluring performance from the Russian-born Margarita Levieva (Adventureland).
Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin) is a gifted high school student living alone with his mother (Marcia Gay Harden — The Hoax) following the death of his father. At school, Nick makes money on the side by writing essays for other students, although his only friend seems to be Pete (Chris Marquette) who, when we first meet him, is being rather forcibly pressed for overdue payment for the purchase of a hot smart phone by Annie Newton (Levieva) and her thugs. Annie’s life is the opposite of Nick’s; her parents are poor and fight, and she and her kid brother are pretty much left to fend for themselves.
When Annie’s store of stolen goods is discovered in her school locker following an anonymous tip-off, she vows revenge. She believes Pete is the grass, but Pete, believing Nick is on a flight to London, claims his friend was responsible. However Nick, who was planning to attend a writing course in the UK, changed his mind at the last minute, and when Annie and her goons catch up to him they administer a severe beating. Believing they have killed Nick, Annie and her mates — including Pete, whom they’ve forced to come along — bundle his body into a storm drain. However, Nick is still alive — albeit trapped in some kind of limbo which means nobody can see or hear him. Somehow, he has to guide somebody to his body so that he can receive medical attention before he really does die.
It’s the kind of set-up which is almost impossible to screw up: a race against time complete with fantastic/supernatural elements opens up all sorts of imaginative and creative options. But the writers of The Invisible burden it with so many inconsistencies and absurdities that they more or less erase any tension inherent in the storyline. Goyer does a pretty good job of distracting us from the fact that he doesn’t possess the budget necessary for the kind of flashy special effects a film like this would normally boast, but seems overly fond of a device whereby we’re shown that the havoc created by Nick — furniture and people thrown about in frustrated anger — is instantly corrected, so that those people/pieces of furniture are, in reality, untouched by his rage. Like most effects, it looks good once or twice, but gets old pretty quickly.
But it’s not the effects that are The Invisible’s most glaring deficiencies — it’s the details of the storyline; it’s the way in which a suspected killer seems able to wander around their home town at will with little prospect of a laughably inept police force catching sight of them; it’s in the way Nick lies close to death for day, but only suffers a life-threatening seizure once he’s in the back of an ambulance; it’s in the way a slip of a girl can operate a criminal reign of terror in a high school, and it’s in the way a wanted criminal can wander around the corridors of a hospital with a gunshot wound to their gut without being noticed. The Invisible might provide entertainment for teens with a liking for tragic romance — the movie’s ending has faint echoes of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet — but for everyone else it will prove to be something of a waste of time.