A John Carpenter film I haven’t seen (there are a couple), and I’m kind of divided on this one. It’s very obvious that this is one of the few films that he didn’t (or couldn’t) have complete control over and is also one of the very few that didn’t have him doing the music as well.
The music, however, was a first for Hollywood, featuring Shirley Walker as the first woman to write an orchestral score for a major studio’s release.
The film stars Chevy Chase (nowhere near as likable in this film as he was as Fletch) as Nick Halloway, a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, and after a freak accident, is rendered completely invisible. He is pursuing Alice (Daryl Hannah) before things get transparent for him, and then he in turn is pursued by CIA operative David Jenkins (the always awesome Sam Neill – who went on to make one of my favorite non-Kurt Russell Carpenter films – In the Mouth of Madness).
The film wanders, and occasionally wobbles from comedy to science fiction to drama to romance, and not always as smoothly or ably as other Carpenter films, and I wonder if it had more to do with the control the studio had over the picture as opposed to the talents of those involved.
There are some nice moments, and homages, in a conversation with Jenkins he refers to himself as Harvey, the imaginary rabbit, and when he meets up with Alice some time after the accident, he’s all bundled up in bandages and cuts a very familiar image to film buffs – that of Claude Rains in the original film.
It is undeniably a Carpenter film, but feels, sanitized and run through a studio system, it doesn’t have the irreverence and edge that most of his films seem to have.
Despite that I was suitably entertained, and was even left with moments of wondering… how did they do that, as Halloway wanders about unseen.
A lot of the time, however, we, as the viewer, are permitted to see Halloway and his interactions with those around him, there’s a priceless moment when an old woman’s purse is snatched, and Halloway grabs it back from the young thug. That made me laugh out loud.
The film also features a lot of familiar names and faces, joining Chase, Hannah and Neill are Micheal McKean, Stephen Tobolowsky, Patricia Heaton and Rosalind Chao.
Some of the comedy seems a little silly, but I found myself, as always, enjoying Neill’s performance, for me, he’s always been an incredible reliable actor, and I’ve never not enjoyed his performances, and I see a revisit to In the Mouth of Madness coming up again soon!
Jenkins chases Halloway throughout the film with an unchecked tenacity, which causes him to make a fatal error in the film’s climax, which was actually nicely executed.
The film is undeniably Carpenter, but more Carpenter-Lite, and I can’t help but wonder what kind of film this would have been had he been given complete control over the project.
I think it’s time to watch another one…