When David S. Goyer writes a screenplay, something like "Batman Begins" could come from that effort. When he's handed directorial reigns, it's "Blade: Trinity." Unfortunately, "The Invisible" is one of those directing efforts I hoped wouldn't come up again for Goyer so soon.
Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin, "War of the Worlds") is a moody high school senior without much love in his life. When he's brutally assaulted by school enforcer and fellow loner Annie (Margarita Levieva), Nick returns to his world as a ghost, although he doesn't know that at first. Unable to communicate with the living, Nick struggles with his new reality, but when he recognizes he might not be dead after all, he looks to Annie, the only person who can sense his presence, to help him recover his body.
To be fair, "The Invisible" wasn't born directly from Goyer's imagination. This is a remake of a 2002 Swedish thriller, giving the filmmaker a clear path on how to conduct business. Goyer has selected the bluer shade of emo to use as a backdrop for the story, filming in deep woods, under gray skies, encouraging his cast to keep their frowns upside down, and relentlessly selling a soundtrack packed to the gills with music to plan a suicide to.
This is a downbeat, bland movie, but instead of taking comfort in the isolation, Goyer lets the clouds inhibit the whole endeavor. "Invisible" sulks around the frame, trusting the potential teen audience will feel some kinship with these bruised characters and their fight to be heard by adults. Employing transparent symbolism and even more attention-hogging lighting, Goyer's visual ideas are simplistic and they undermine the experience. Too much of the film looks like a pharmaceutical commercial, leaving the drama in its own state of otherworldly limbo that is never broken.
The troubles of the film aren't always due to Goyer's helming. "Invisible" is a rather openly muddled scripted effort with little time put into the mystery at the center of the story, or even, at poorly chosen times, simple logic. It can be maddening watching Nick run around doing the exact opposite of what any sensible ghost should be accomplishing when put into his situation. Perhaps this is why Goyer blares a new "hit" song every five minutes - to keep the senses busy while the movie keeps running into walls.
If anything sums up the flat-tire directorial effort of the picture, it's the casting of Levieva as Annie. A character written as a thief and general pedestrian overpass bruiser, the actress is two prayers away from five feet in height and couldn't be over 90 pounds if you paid her. You see, this is why nobody likes when Goyer directs a feature film. The actress was clearly cast for her looks, not physical stature (annoyingly, she often acts through her lengthy hair), and the same goes for Chatwin, who spends a great deal of his role all yelly, trying new acting tics on for size. "Invisible" asks the viewer to spend over 100 minutes caring about these people, but without guidance behind the camera and raw talent in front, the film becomes quite a compelling tug of war between snores and unintentional laughs.
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