Film Review: “The Invisible Man” (2017)

Production image for the 2017 UK film “The Invisible Man”

For a variety of reasons, I’m giving the trial version of Amazon Prime a whirl. Since it offers a streaming service, I took a look at their film offerings to see if anything piqued my interest. Except for a few small gems, everything seemed either uninteresting or it was material I’d previously viewed and had no interest in seeing again.

One exception was a 2017 UK production of The Invisible Man, a modern retelling of the H.G. Wells classic.

In this case, the scientist Griffin, played by Jonathan Le Billon, is portrayed as a sympathetic but tortured character. He is assisted in his efforts by Faith (Sarah Navratil) who develops a complicated relationship with her mentor, and whose loyalties are split between Griffin and her lover/employer who is funding the research (the character and actor were so forgettable, not only can’t I recall the character’s name, but no photo is listed for the actor either on IMDb or through a Google image search).

In most film adaptations of Wells’ novel, Griffin is only seen in flashbacks and/or upon his death, but the movie devotes a good portion of its time with a very visible scientist working with Faith on his formula. His motivation is less than scientific however, as we discover he seeks revenge for the death of his son, murdered by a serial killer of children who was also once a student of Griffin’s.

The movie was mildly interesting, but even though it had plenty of drama, especially at the end, it just didn’t grab me, and I love invisible man stories. The acting was so-so, the plot plodded along, and there were some pretty big holes in said-plot.

At one point, after an invisible Griffin sneaks into the murderer’s (played by Chris Coon) flat and frees his latest would-be victim, why didn’t that kid call the police and tell them what happened? There should have been plenty of evidence, and Chris would have been arrested long before Griffin got around to killing him. For that matter, after the kid escaped, why didn’t Griffin kill him then rather than returning later? Okay, the answer to that last question might be that the Invisible Man hadn’t lost a sufficient amount of his marbles at that point, although even before taking the formula, he wasn’t exactly stable.

Oh, spoiler alert. At the end, Griffith captures and threatens to murder Faith and her boyfriend who he now believes are plotting against him, even though scant hours before, Faith had accepted Griffith’s marriage proposal. He manages to hold himself together long enough to commit suicide instead, and in fact, boyfriend tied to a chair beside Faith seems to have been a hallucination.

After Griffith expires, all of his research is still present and both Faith and boyfriend have access to it, leaving the door open for exploiting the secret of human invisibility. Also, when Griffith murdered Chris, he surely left his fingerprints all over the knife he used to slit the young man’s throat (no clothes means no gloves). Of course, it doesn’t matter in the end when Griffith dies, but still, assuming law enforcement didn’t suspect Chris of his crimes, that leaves the scientist as the sole villain of the piece.

The movie has a happy ending of sorts. After his son’s death, Griffith and his wife divorce, but in the final scene, after Griffith dies, we see the young teenager standing by a tree in a wide, verdant field which presumably is the afterlife. Griffith approaches and they run into each other’s arms. Tearful reunion in death.

I gained nothing by viewing the film an in my opinion, there was no point in making it.

One final complaint and it’s a pet peeve of mine. In most Invisible Man productions, no one explains how the invisible man can see. If light is going through or around him, then light can’t bounce off the back of his eyes, and if that’s the case, he can’t see the world anymore than the world can see him. Wells, in his novel, addressed this, but to the best of my knowledge, the only other interpretation that did so was the 2000-2002 television series starring Vincent Ventresca, Paul Ben-Victor, and Shannon Kenny.

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