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Impostor theatrical poster
Directed by Gary Fleder
Produced by Michael Phillips
Written by Philip K. Dick (short story)
Scott Rosenberg (adaptation)
Caroline Case (screenplay)
Ehren Kruger (screenplay)
and David Twohy (screenplay)
Starring Gary Sinise
Madeleine Stowe
Vincent D'Onofrio
Editing by Bob Ducsay
Armen Minasian
Distributed by Dimension Films
Release date(s) January 4, 2002
Running time 93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget NA

Impostor is a 2002 science fiction film based upon a short story of the same name, written by Philip K. Dick in 1953.



Gary Sinise plays Spencer Olham, a top-secret government weapons designer who is arrested by a clandestine government organization on suspicion of being a replicant created by the hostile alien race wanting to take over Earth. He learns from the group's leader, Major Hathaway (Vincent D'Onofrio) that the replicants are perfect copies of the original human specimen (complete with memories), except they carry within their chests a small nuclear bomb, which cannot be detected without opening up the chest of the individual; in effect, killing them. The organization captured an alien transmission that stated that Olham's replicant was to assassinate the chancellor (Lindsay Crouse) when he came into contact with her, but Olham defends his humanity.

He manages to escape the interrogation room and has various adventures on the run until Olham and his wife (Madeleine Stowe) are trapped by government troops in a forest near an alien crash site. When one half of the cockpit is pulled away, revealing the murdered corpse of Olham's real wife, the government troops turn their guns on the surprised replicant to prevent her bomb from detonating. However, when the other half of the cockpit is pulled back, revealing Olham's corpse, the other Olham finally realizes he was indeed the replicant the government thought he was. The words he utters on seeing the real Olham's corpse cause the detonation sequence to engage. Hathaway turns around at the last moment to see Olham's eyes turn black and the bomb in his chest explode, destroying everything within several miles and claiming the lives of thousands of people. Although many people have died, the alien plan to destroy the weapons project with the bomb fails.



The film adaptation was originally planned to be one segment of a three-part sci-fi anthology film titled Light Years, but was the only segment filmed before the project fell apart. The other shorts were to be adaptations of Isaac Asimov's story "The Last Question" by Bryan Singer and Donald A. Wollheim's story "Mimic" by Matthew Robbins. "Mimic" was eventually adapted into a film of the same name, but with a different script.

The short was originally written by Scott Rosenberg, with revisions by Mark Protosevich and Caroline Case. When it was decided to expand the short into a feature-length film, additional scenes were written by Richard Jeffries, Ehren Kruger, and David Twohy.

Burn areas in Running Springs, California, were utilized to create the space craft crash site. Sets were constructed in Angeles National Forest and in numerous areas around Los Angeles. Most of the interiors were built on stage in Manhattan Beach, including a two-story hospital and 3-story pharmacy, and a commuter transport station with articulated commuter "bugs".

The movie was made on an estimated $40 million budget.


Impostor received poor to average and some positive reviews from critics.[1] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two and a half stars (out of four), saying "there are a few moderately diverting subplots and the storyline eventually gets somewhere," but added that "Impostor wears out its welcome by the half-hour mark, and doesn't do anything to stir things up until the climax. You could spend the entire midsection of this movie in the bathroom and not miss much."[1]

William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave the film a mildly positive review, praising lead actor Gary Sinise's ability to "hold the film together and provide a strong, sympathetic human focus. The movie's atmosphere has a very definite Blade Runner feel."[2] Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide gave the film three stars out of four, saying it packed "a real emotional wallop," but suggested that it would have worked better as the 40-minute short film it was originally intended to be.[3]

Keith Phipps of The Onion's A.V. Club gave the film a negative review, saying that "it essentially uses the setup of [the story] as a bookend to one long, dull chase scene."[4] Robert Koehler of Variety also criticized the film, calling it "a stubbornly unexciting ride into the near future."[5]


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