The Invisible is typical David Goyer fare, in that it feels very much like a superhero origin story. The main character, played by Justin Chatwin, could be called 'Almost Dead Man.' After suffering a vicious beating at the hands of a couple of street hoods, his body lies expiring at the bottom of a ravine while his spirit has been knocked loose and is able to roam freely. He can see and hear everything, but other people can't see or hear him, and interestingly, he is able to touch and interact with his environment, but only in fantasy flashes. He can pick a book up off a desk and throw it across the room, but as soon as it hits the wall, its back on the desk. He can punch someone in the face and watch them be knocked backwards, but it didn't really happen, it's just his overactive ghostly imagination. Almost Dead Man is chiefly concerned with figuring out who tried to kill him and why, but I wish he wasn't, since it doesn't make for a really compelling story.
Goyer has one trick up his sleeve, as far as the plot is concerned. He tries, in a very screenwriter-ish way, to combine the film's main villain and love interest characters into one, but even that strains the credibility of the story to the point where we end up examining it more than we are engaged by it. The character in question, Annie Newton, is played by Margarita Levieva as a toboggan-wearing teenage punk who smashes windows, rips rides, and does pretty much everything you wouldn't expect from a girl who looks like she could star in her own Nickelodeon show. She's the one who Nick had the bad luck to cross paths with, and after she leaves him for dead, the film sets up its two parallel story lines. Nick is walking the earth as a coma-ghost and investigating his own assault, which will eventually lead him to Annie, and Annie is evading the cops, dealing with her untrustworthy fellow hoods and undergoing a crisis of conscience over committing what she thinks was a murder.p>As we saw with Blade: Trinity and we see here, Goyer has a somewhat tin ear for acting and he still has something to learn when it comes to avoiding amateurish directing mistakes. For example, Marcia Gay Harden has a minor but important role in the film as Nick's mother, who only knows that her son mysteriously went missing a couple of days ago. Harden gives what was probably a perfectly decent performance as an anxious and preemptively grieving mother, but it's completely at odd angles to the story tone and the camera set-ups, and comes off as strangely out of place. You get the feeling when watching her scenes that either she or Goyer misjudged what kind of performance was necessary, and couldn't really go back later and change it. They had to just live with it. Also, there are a few points during the story where characters are required to quickly reverse attitudes they've previously expressed, and they just sort of do it, unconvincingly, so that the story can keep going where it needs to go.
On the other hand, it's an interesting conceit of the story that the cops are onto this whole thing from the beginning. They quickly piece together the correct chain of events: Annie thinking, incorrectly, that Nick saw her commit a crime and so she decides to shut him up before he can blab to the cops. They assume that she killed him and hid the body somewhere, and so they are searching for Nick's body while keeping close tabs on her. There's a tense sense on an elevated platform when the cops come to nab Annie and she crawls through the overhanging mesh to get away, and there are other tense standoff moments sprinkled throughout the film, but they don't add up to much, and its all a little robotic. The script is so busy with its parallel stories and paints itself into so many corners that there's very little room for spontaneity or events that don't directly impact what's going to happen next in the plot. Also, like most movie ghosts, Nick accepts his ghostliness a little too easily.
I've seen a lot worse than The Invisible this year, but the film is mediocre enough to make you pretty much forget about it ten minutes after you leave the theater. Its flat, plot-heavy presentation won't leave a big footprint on your memory or make you pine for the future adventures of 'Almost Dead Man,' fighting crime as his body lies in a coma in a hospital somewhere, perhaps. The film is also mediocre enough to raise a debate about David Goyer's unpredictable career, zig-zagging from scripting duties on high-profile blockbusters like Batman Begins to directing supernatural-actioners like Blade: Trinity and this. It seems like his talents lie in the former, not the latter. I'm not saying that Batman Begins in particular had a good script, but Dark City and the first Blade were sharply plotted with good dialogue. Instead of focusing on the writing, however, Goyer keeps getting chances at the directing chair, probably because a guy who can reliably turn out superhero-franchise scripts gets pretty much whatever he wants from the studios these days.