‘Invisible Man’ (2020) Review: Potent Reminder that Gun Rights are Human Rights

theinvisibleman1
Universal Pictures

The Invisible Man (2020) is a potent reminder that gun rights are human rights, especially for women.

When done right, art doesn’t reveal something about the artist, it reveals something about the person interpreting the art.

Take The Sopranos. A feminist might see David Chase’s masterpiece as a commentary on toxic masculinity. I see it as a criticism of the cancer of consumerism eating away at America’s soul.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Because Chase created art as opposed to a polemic, we’re both right. The show is so expansive, so complicated (in a good way), and so brilliant, there’s room for everyone. Great art doesn’t tell you what to think. It makes you think.

Even pulp can create this result. What I saw in 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy was a brutal condemnation of Obama’s America…

Today the Federal Government is a subject of worship. The very concepts of God and patriotism have been co-opted and perverted into worship of the State and the aborting of the sick, old, and undesirable. A chirpy, shallow, dim-witted, happy-talking and omnipresent 24/7 hour media cheerleads everything.

Caught between street thug Community Organizers wearing Occupy Wall Street-type masks, the Federal Government, and the Top 1% being serviced by both, are the Working Class.

As defined by our unnamed reluctant hero (Frank Grillo); Eva (Carmen Ejogo), a struggling Hispanic waitress; her daughter Cali (Zoe Soul); and a young white couple with marital problems (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) — all of whom are on the run for their lives — these everyday Americans don’t care about race or class. They get along fine and just want to live their lives. The Federal Government can’t allow that, though, so it sows seeds of hate and division to keep itself empowered and necessary.

But because Purge: Anarchy is produced by Blumhouse, one of the most left-wing production companies ever, I was yelled at on Twitter over this. Whatever. That’s what I saw. Purge: Anarchy is not political propaganda, which leaves it open to interpretation, and that was my interpretation. Sadly, the Purge chapters that followed were much more on-the-nose, and the poorer for it.

Man alive, you should have heard the uproar when I interpreted Black Panther as a MAGA movie. To which I will always respond: But, gee Wally, it’s about a society that thrives economically and technologically while aggressively protecting its cherished culture, and does so specifically by closing its borders.  

Anyway, writer-director Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man (2020) is also produced by Blumhouse, and according to most of everything I’ve read, I am required to interpret it as “A Horror Movie For The #MeToo Era, Appears At Just The Right Time Post Weinstein Verdict.

Fuck that.

It is not.

The Invisible Man (2020)  isn’t great art. It’s not The Sopranos by a long shot. It doesn’t even begin to touch James Whale’s 1933 original — one of my favorite movies of all time; a movie filled with so much aching humanity, wit, madness, and cleverness you can never quite shake it.

But despite some slow spots — okay, some real slow spots, it is extremely well directed and produced, offers some legitimately stunning turning points, and improves as things roll along.

One of the reasons the #MeToo interpretation sounds so silly is that, outside of the whole invisible thing, we’ve already seen this premise countless times: Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), Enough (2002), Lady Death Wish (1995) , I Spit on Your Grave (1978), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), Unlawful Entry (1992). Until that final twist upends all your expectations, this is an idea that reaches back 65 years to Los Diaboliques (1955). Oh, and let’s not forget Hollow Man (2000), which does include the whole invisible thing.

There’s nothing new here. And another reason I don’t buy the #MeToo fanfare is because — thank the Movie Gods —  Invisible Man is not preachy or in any way woke. It’s just another story of a mousy woman who finally finds the will to fight her abuser. It’s also a story that respects the audience enough to not fudge the truth about the physical disadvantage women faced when confronted by a man. Our heroine Cecilia (a blander than bland Elisabeth Moss) is powerless without the equalizer of a firearm. So you can get as strident and #MeeToo-ey about this thing as you want. In the end, the only thing that really matters is the equalizer, is the gun.

Invisible Man (2020) opens beautifully with a tense scene that has nothing to do with special effects. With her abusive husband, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), drugged and asleep at her side, Cecilia executes a clever escape plan, and only barely succeeds. After two weeks of hiding out, where she’s really just waiting for the inevitable, for the brilliant and wealthy Adrian to find her, she’s told he committed suicide. Even better, he left her $5 million.

But just as she starts to exhale, it becomes obvious Adrian isn’t dead, that he has somehow figured out a way to become completely invisible. The taunting starts out small, small enough that no one believes her.  Then things get so crazy everyone believes Cecilia is crazy.

The story doesn’t really get going until the halfway point, a jaw-dropping scene in a restaurant (my jaw literally dropped), that puts an end to the tiresome haunted house premise and finally opens things up to explore the true potential of the premise.

There are some plot holes. In a world filled with cameras, I found it hard to believe Cecilia’s story could never be verified. You also keep waiting for Cecilia to ask her friend James (Aldis Hodge), a freakin’ police detective, to verify Adrian’s death with the coroner. Adrian is famous enough for his death to make news. How did he pull that off?

Another big problem is Moss. Cecilia is a big blah. You feel nothing for her. Obviously, you don’t want to see her or anyone else get hurt, but because she’s such a sexless dishrag, a symbol of abuse as opposed to a living, breathing woman, Invisible Man (2020) is like a movie that chooses to focus on the one-dimensional best friend instead of the vibrant, charismatic star.

Can I say something I’m not supposed to say…?

Is that okay?

Do y’all mind…?

You want to know why women-in-jeopardy movies, from Fay Wray to Grace Kelly to Janet Leigh to Julia Roberts to Jamie Lee Curtis to Jennifer Lopez, focus on beautiful, desirable leading ladies? Because beautiful, desirable leading ladies fire up a man’s protective impulses, and when we’re attracted to the woman who’s in jeopardy, we’re invested emotionally in the story.

Moss is a lovely woman, no question. But here she’s just blah, sexless, and dull; a make-up free doormat whose gives a fine performance but does so without reaching out to us.

Maybe that is the woke aspect of all this, a subtle way to deliberately exclude the evil patriarchy…

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I really miss T & A.

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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