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IMPOSTOR

The scariest thing about Philip K. Dick is that he’s always relevant. Based on a 1952 Dick short story, Gary Fleder’s Impostor isn’t especially scintillating science fiction on its own, but in the light of our ongoing national crisis, it seems eerily prescient.

In the year 2079, war has raged with the alien Alpha Centauri for a decade, and as super-scientist Spencer Olham (Gary Sinise) notes in a voiceover, luxuries like democracy have long since been forgotten. But personal liberties are one thing; personal identity is another, and Olham finds his very being challenged when Earth Security Agency head Hathaway (Vincent D’Onofrio) — think John Ashcroft in a Matrix–like outfit — accuses him of being a Centauri cyborg implanted with a bomb and programmed as an assassin. Then the chase begins, none too compellingly executed (Olham has been given a dose of some mind-altering drug to allow Fleder some jazzy camerawork and editing), through a drab future dystopia that looks like parts of present-day Detroit. Intentionally or not, Impostor wryly demonstrates that the evils of xenophobia, despotism, and jingoistic paranoia, rife in the McCarthyite era in which the story was first written, never go out of style.

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: January 10 - 17, 2002
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