"You killed me, you bitch!" -- Nick
It seems that ghosts are the in thing right now. We've certainly had our fair share of spooky stories recently, but at least The Invisible tries to swap things up by giving us the tale from the poor dead sap's point of view. We've had other flicks try this tack before, most notably Ghost. But whereas that flick had Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, this one is brought to us by the director of Blade: Trinity.
Nick Powell (Justin "War of the Worlds" Chatwin) is about to graduate from high school in Seattle. His dad died when Nick was 13, and mom (Marcia Gay "Flubber" Harden) locked herself down emotionally, and tried to make sure that Nick's life went "according to plan." But instead of running off to the Ivy League school of her choice, Nick wants to pursue his poetry writing.
Our other main character is Annie (Margarita Levieva). Her mother died when Annie was young as well, leaving her with her ex-cop dad and younger brother trying to make it in what's barely a step up from a slum. Oh, and Annie is in a self-destructive spiral of theft, loan sharking and extortion.
We discover all this when we see Nick protect his best friend Pete (Chris "Freddy vs. Jason" Marquette) from Annie, over some money Pete borrowed from her.
Over his mother's protests, Nick has saved up his own money and is planning to fly off for a poetry fellowship in England. Meanwhile, Annie's been ratted out to the cops, and comes to believe that Pete is the one who did it. While getting beat down by Annie and her gang for this, Pete decides to save his own skin by saying Nick was the rat, believing that Nick'll already be on his plane to London. What Pete doesn't know is that the flight was rescheduled, so Annie and her crew of thugs find and start in on Nick. One bad fall later, and Nick enters Swayze-Land.
From here, it's the usual "what do you mean I'm dead?" realizations, followed by Nick haunting people, either Annie, his mom, or the detective (Callum Keith "Battlestar Fracking Galactica" Rennie), the cop trying to solve the case. It's all pretty rote until there's a mid-point change in the story, and puts all the characters on a ticking clock that drives them towards the climax.
The cast, as a whole, does a serviceable job; Chatwin could have easily done Nick as your typical upper-middle class twit emo-boy, and does wander close to that line a few too many times to be comfortable, but he isn't bad. Annie also manages to build some sympathy for a character that could have been played up as a straight thug or a poser "bad girl." Rennie is also as fun to watch here as he was as Conoy on BSG.
A cool bit is how Nick can't affect the mortal world. He tries, and we see what would happen if he could, such as when he throws a book and knocks down a shelf, but then everything snaps back to "reality," frustrating Nick mightily.
On the directing side, David Goyer has come a very, very long way from Blade: Trinity. This movie is a lot less jumbled, has a smoother story, and he's developing a good style. I still wouldn't trust him with a big action piece again, but keep tossing character pieces like this at him and he should do well. I also give him credit for keeping the end from being too maudlin. It's just maudlin enough.
On the bad side, the movie is very slow to get started. And once it does start moving, it has trouble staying in motion. Visually, the movie manages to capture the feel of Seattle, in that it's very grey and wet most of the time, but it's obviously Vancouver making the stand in. We never even get a stock-footage shot of the Space Needle, for crying out loud.
The Invisible is a decent movie, with a few flaws that keep it from being a solid recommendation.
I just wish they could have used a photo of Swayze for Nick's dead dad. That would have been priceless.