As a crooked renegade CIA agent trying to recruit invisible yuppie Chevy Chase, Sam Neill implores him to "think of the adventures we'll have!" Unfortunately, it is the spirit of adventure that is distinctly lacking in MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, a dismayingly flat and predictable,
special-effects-laden action thriller.
The title dilemma of investment banker Nick Halloway (Chase) begins when he attends a presentation at a high-tech research company the morning after being instantly besotted by Boston lawyer-turned-social documentary filmmaker Alice Monroe (Hannah). Roaming the corridors of the high-tech firm in
search of the men's room, Nick accidentally causes a helpful technician to spill a cup of coffee on a computer console, resulting in a massive short circuit that spreads throughout the building and somehow renders Nick invisible. His nemesis, David Jenkins (Neill), shows up at the scene of the
catastrophe and, seeing the possibilities in an agent who can't be seen, spends the rest of the film trying to corral Nick. After Nick is reunited with Alice at a mutual friend's vacation home, they plot together to throw Jenkins off their trail once and for all and leave for some faraway place,
where Nick plans to become a reclusive tycoon by wheeling and dealing over the phone. Jenkins's late kidnapping of Alice throws a wrench in the machinery, but only long enough for Nick to kill Jenkins as Jenkins has killed others, by throwing him off a roof.
MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN wants to be two types of films currently fashionable in Hollywood. The hook of a yuppie learning sensitivity in the wake of an outlandish catastrophe puts it in league with REGARDING HENRY and GHOST. Meanwhile, Nick's idealistic refusal to join Jenkins resembles the
bogus pacifism of Schwarzenegger in TERMINATOR 2. It also means to establish Chase as a non-comic leading man. And Chase does keep the pratfalls to a minimum. However, the screenplay doesn't give him much of a non-comic character to play, leaving the star teetering uncomfortably between comedy and
As it was in H.F. Saint's novel (which, oddly, has some moments of Chase-style humor that were left out of the film), Nick's invisibility is meant to be a physical correlative for his emotional detachment from the lives of those around him. Yet he's shown to be surrounded by people who like him,
not the least of them being Hannah. It's also a little hard to buy Nick's moral superiority to Jenkins, since his only real goal is to give Jenkins the slip in order to withdraw from the mainstream of humanity and become a rich recluse. Jenkins is even less well defined than Nick. We never even
know for sure whether he really intends to recruit Nick or kill him. Mostly he just seems to be chasing Chase because that's what bad guys do.
Similarly, it seems an oversight to establish Alice's brainy credibility as a documentary filmmaker without finding some meaningful way to integrate her background into the action. As the plot picks up speed, Alice instead becomes a standard heroine to match Chase's standard hero and Neill's
standard villain. This is all the more dismaying considering that the screenplay is co-credited to William Goldman (MISERY, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and many more). John Carpenter directs with what can only be described as slack disengagement when compared to the poignant urgency he
injected into the similar STARMAN and the pure, bravura moviemaking joy he brought to his underrated action-comedy BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Here, working with a far inferior screenplay, Carpenter is only occasionally able to evoke the suspense and excitement of his best past work. (Violence,mild adult situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: As a crooked renegade CIA agent trying to recruit invisible yuppie Chevy Chase, Sam Neill implores him to "think of the adventures we'll have!" Unfortunately, it is the spirit of adventure that is distinctly lacking in MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, a dismay… (more)