At first glance, you might think The Invisible would be a simple revenge story, like a teenaged version of Ghost. A high school student is beaten and left for dead mere weeks before graduation, and his spirit roams the city looking for his killers. The problem is, no one can see or hear him, so it's not exactly clear what he can do once he does find the culprits. Even so, he tracks them down, and as he follows them and spies on them—and on his mother, and on his friend, and on various other people—he discovers that there are aspects of their lives that were just as invisible to him as he now is to them. In short, he begins to feel compassion for some of them.
If only it were as easy for the audience to feel for the characters. As it is, some of the key players tend to be either off-putting or unconvincing. The victim, Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin, last seen as Tom Cruise's son in War of the Worlds), is first seen at a graduation party hosted by his mother (Marcia Gay Harden), where he vandalizes a cake before going downstairs and sticking a rifle in his mouth. Whoops, it was just a dream! But this is still how the movie chooses to introduce Nick, by focusing on his adolescent self-absorption, and the opening scene doesn't exactly endear him to us.
As we get to know Nick, we learn that he's a smart boy from a well-to-do family who is fed up with his widowed mother and her plans for his future. He has dreams of becoming a poet, and so he plans to leave town without telling her; in the meantime, he sells essays to his cheating classmates, and his relationship with one local girl could be best described as unfulfilling. In short, the film doesn't give us much reason to care about him, one way or the other, before he ...1