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Impostor runs, but it cant hide

After a recent screening of 'Impostor,' my companion described the film to an acquaintance:

'The government thinks that Gary Sinise is a killer robot, so they try to kill him, but he runs away. Then he meets some people who help him, and he runs and runs and runs. Then some stuff happens, and he runs some more.'

That sums up the plot quite nicely. In 2079, the world is at war with the Centaurians, a 'genetically more advanced race.' Sinise plays Spencer Olham, a physicist who designs weapons for the government.

On the eve of his introduction to the world's chancellor, Olham is nabbed by government agent Major D.H. Hathaway (Vincent D'Ono-frio). Hathaway believes that the real Olham has been replaced by a biologically identical Centaurian replicant that's programmed to blow to smithereens when introduced to the chancellor.

Hathaway attempts to vivisect Olham, Olham escapes, and all the running and hiding and shooting continue from there. Olham is convinced he's not a cyborg, but Ñ echoing 'The Fugitive' and 'Total Recall' Ñ his goal is to prove without a doubt that he is, indeed, who he thinks he is before Hathaway's armed soldiers can get to him.

It's not surprising that the film brings 'Total Recall,' another film about identity crisis, to mind. Both films Ñ and 'Blade Runner' as well Ñ were based on works by science fiction author Philip K. Dick, who specialized in stories about human replicants and paranoia.

Directed by Gary Fleder ('Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead,' 'Kiss the Girls') and written by David Twohy ('Pitch Black'), 'Impostor' is brisk, efficient and well-acted. Yet it has nothing exceptional to recommend it beyond the impressive design of Fleder's futuristic cityscapes.

Well, there is one thing. For what it's worth, it's better than 'Total Recall.'

The cast of supporting characters includes Mekhi Phifer ('O') as the outer/underworld denizen who aids Olham, and Tony Shalhoub as Olham's best pal Ñ plus uncredited cameos by Tracey Walter and Lindsay Crouse.

Dimension Films shelved 'Impostor' more than a year ago Ñ never a good sign Ñ and may have decided to release the film now to cash in on some of the buzz surrounding Steven Spielberg's upcoming 'Minority Report,' another Dick adaptation.

While it's not nearly as awful as those circumstances might lead you to suspect, 'Impostor' is still a film better suited to video rental or late-night viewing on HBO.