Imagine being accused of being someone else - someone dangerous, potentially lethal, yet resembling you in every way. You are, as far as you’re concerned, still you. How do you convince your accusers that you are you and not some evil, alien clone? Confused? Like all Philip K Dick concepts, the concept is surprisingly straightforward, completely original and always gripping. Transforming his short stories into feature films, however, takes a concerted effort not to over-complicate things and lose sight of Dick's original sentiments.
Happily 'The Impostor' does a fantastic job - it's good quality, relatively conventional sci-fi, for both the beginner and the connoisseur. Those familiar with Dick's original story will be pleased with how faithful the adaptation is, although there are one or two extra twists to keep up the surprise factor. Gary Sinise plays arms scientist Spencer Olham with a suitable mixture of bewilderment, innocence and gritty determination. Mekhi Phifer, now famous as Eminem's mentor in '8 Mile', is also excellent here as an underground fugitive aiding and abetting Olham in his escape from his would-be captors.
Fans of Minority Report (also based on a story by Dick) may notice some remarkable similarities between these two films - especially in the portrayal of a world in which everyone is monitored and tracked, and the accusation, capture and subsequent escape of the lead character. Although the obviously smaller budget of The Impostor means that it could be regarded as a poor cousin of Minority Report (especially as its special effects are OK but not world-beating), if anything its no-nonsense approach to Dick's story and its attention to detail makes it a much more satisfying affair.