Impostor is directed by Gary Fleder who emerged to some acclaim with the gangster film Things to Do in Denver When Youre Dead (1996). Fleder then slipped into an efficient if unremarkable niche with commercial successes like the serial killer thriller Kiss the Girls (1997), the Michael Douglas psycho-thriller Dont Say a Word (2001) and the subsequent Runaway Jury (2003) and producing the tv series Beauty and the Beast (2012-6). Fleders first film was The Companion (1994), which was also an interesting venture into android themes about a love robot going amok. On script, Fleder has David Twohy, the director of some of the most intelligent genre films of recent years, including the likes of Timescape (1992), The Arrival (1996) and Pitch Black (2000) among others, as well as Ehren Kruger, the screenwriter of Arlington Road (1999), Scream 3 (2000), The Ring (2002), The Brothers Grimm (2005) and the Transformers films.
As the film tells us, before the cast, the credits or even the title pops up, it is based on a work by the classic futurist Philip K. Dick even though Dick himself might have resisted the self-description of the word futurist which was originally published in 1953. Philip K. Dick is a genuine cult writer. His stories operate on a particularly paranoid worldview where protagonists typically find themselves in fundamental existential crises where they can no longer be sure if they are not android duplicates indistinguishable from humans, whether their whole lives are artificial implants or if their entire perception of reality is being manipulated. Philip K. Dicks works have led to films such as Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), Screamers (1995), Minority Report (2002), Paycheck (2003), A Scanner Darkly (2006), Next (2007), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), Total Recall (2012), Radio Free Albemuth (2014)the tv series adaptation of The Man in the High Castle (2015 ) and the tv anthology series Philip K. Dicks Electric Dreams (2017 ), as well as the documentary The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick (2000) about Dicks fascinatingly bizarre life.
Part of the problem that no doubt led to the films delays is that Impostor is a relatively modest and unassuming film. It features a handful of moderately well-known actors (including Gary Sinise who also acts as the films producer) but no top-list stars. It offers some excellent Industrial Light and Magic cityscape backgrounds but is not in itself a special effects vehicle. There are various chase sequences, shootouts and fights but it is not an sf/action film. Rather, Impostor is that rarity of a film carried simply by a good story and an original idea. Which may well explain why people were having difficulty selling the film. It could have been blown up into a big action vehicle as indeed, other Philip K. Dick adaptations such as Total Recall and Paycheck have been but the films good sense is to realize that it didnt need to be. What is also surprising, considering that it has been reshot, is that the finished film still retains the surprisingly dour ending of the story.
Impostor is not a film that is ever going to attain cult or classic status, or even make any year-end Top 10 lists, but it does conduct itself with modestly quiet effect. The story is interesting, Gary Fleder keeps it moving by shooting in tight, kinetic closeups. Perhaps the ultimate complaint one can make is that it is just that a little too quiet and modest. Nevertheless, there are a good many worse ways to spend an hour-and-half.