Memoirs of an Invisible Man Review

A tragic accident leaves Nick Halloway (Chevy Chase) invisible, and an even worse accident sees John Carpenter settle into the director’s chair. For much of the film, Halloway is not invisible. That comes from hiring Chase, whose fees would make his appearance necessary. Carpenter may make a financial loss frequently, but it would be mad indeed to cast a high-profile actor and make him invisible. Thus, the sidestepping of Memoirs of an Invisible Man begins, and it never ends either. Carpenter and Chase must hook the audience, and quick. Reel them in, throw them down and convince them that a story about a protagonist we cannot see, let alone like, is worthy of our time. H.G. Wells couldn’t have envisioned something as odd as this. 

“Wait a minute, this ought to do it for ya’,” Halloway implores us to watch on. Objects float and unwrap themselves right in front of us without the hands of a human. Carpenter has always had an impressive flair for visuals, and Memoirs of an Invisible Man is no exception to the rule. His gift for adapting and embracing technology but also classically structured physical props is the hidden weapon in his arsenal. It makes a feature like Memoirs of an Invisible Man feel that much more special. Carpenter and his technical merits may not leave a lasting impression as they did in The Thing or They Live, but it is the subtle impact they have that crafts a shoddy safety net for the cast. 

Chase is a surprising choice for the leading role. He is a man of comedic background, and while Memoirs of an Invisible Man has comedy consistent within, it never feels like the core of the feature. Once Chase is paired up with Daryl Hannah, the feature takes a turn and sets its sights on pioneering the adventure genre once more. Blending such rough genres together, with elements of comedy and science fiction prevailing elsewhere, is a bold move. Some of it pays off, especially the dynamic between Hannah and Chase. Carpenter does not get a chance to show off his flashier style and artistic merits but does come close to making a squeaky-clean Hollywood-secure feature. Memoirs of an Invisible Man has all the right elements, and it makes Carpenter feel a tad redundant. 

That is not to say he does a bad job, just an indifferent one. Nothing here would present something unique to his direction beyond a limited run-through of technical experimentation. Performances come and go with relative consistency, but are not grand enough to make much of an impact. It is a film that comes and goes without any real purpose. Nobody sticks out with much creativity, no scene or performance gives off the impression that something has gone incredibly right. Memoirs of an Invisible Man is just there, unlike its leading man, whose fade from the screen feels like a lucky break rather than a worrisome development. At least his memoirs are interesting, it is just a shame that the large risks taken are successful, but not all that rewarding.  

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