Impostor (2002)

Director: Gary Fleder

Cast Notables:


Dr. Olham is a futuristic J. Robert Oppenheimer, who on the eve of the launch of the most powerful weapon yet known to man against the alien forces of Proxima Centauri, is apprehended by secret police and accused of being a Centauri android bomb, designed to detonate that night when he was to meet with the Chancellor of Earth. He manages to escape his initial capture, and goes on a The Fugitive-like crusade to prove his innocence.


Based on a short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick, Impostor takes a walk alongside David Hume and Immanuel Kant, in an examination of the theory of identity. This is hardly unfamiliar territory for Dick, who was, in his own fashion, a tragic philospher himself.

It is in the quest for identity that this movie really shines. Imagine: If someone had created an android copy of you, complete with memories right up to when it killed you, would it be you? And would you know the difference? Kant would say yes, Hume would disagree, and I'll leave it to you to see this movie and find out what Dick had to say.

As for the story itself, it is fairly predictable, but moves along at a brisk pace. There are a number of deus ex machina dropped in to annoy, but even they are hardly noticable if you are seeing the movie as a philosphical exploration, rather than a sci-fi action flick.

The movie opens with a sex scene between the Drs. Olham, and moves directly to a scene overlooking the terrible weapon. Sinise says something vaguely ominous about his having created it, and although I don't remember precisely what he says, I do know that it was close to what Oppenheimer said when he quoted Shiva after the first atomic bomb tests: "I am become death, destroyer of worlds." For the most part, if you have seen an action movie in the last 20 years, the rest of that aspect of the movie remains that predictable, save for the question of identity, and specifically whether or not Sinise really is the Centauri device. I should add that it does have a couple of interesting plot twists, and, of course, a very interesting twist at the end.

The worst part of the movie, without question, was D'Onofrio's passionless and confused pseudo-acting in the role of Agent Hathaway. I think he was trying too hard to be a hard-ass and tripping over himself in the process. That, or the 'good guy/bad guy' role was a bit much for him. Even this, though, wasn't enough to ruin the movie as a whole.

Sinise, on the other hand, was excellent as the everyman, as per his usual. Madeleine Stowe fits nicely as his loving wife, and has a few decent moments of her own. Sinise is not an actor with a great range, but he has a knack for getting the right role for the one character he is good at playing. He's pretty much the same guy in every movie I see him in, and he's always the right person for the job.

This movie garnered terrible reviews, but I went to see it in spite of them. I was mostly pleasantly surprised, and you might be too. Anyone can make an action movie, but not everyone can make it while keeping the spirit of a Philip Dick story intact.