How feasible, or even advisable, is it to mix ‘n match your basic blockbuster superhero with the offbeat sensibilities of quirky indie fare? Some would say about as likely as successfully negotiating the split personalities of Peter Parker with Spider-Man. Griff The Invisible, an oddball Aussie import attempts just that, and with True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten self-righteously burdened with the assorted physical and psychological when not supernatural ordeals at hand.
Literally disappearing into the role of the self-proclaimed kick butt action hero, Kwanten is Griff, a meek cubicle office drudge shipping clerk bullied and mocked by day, who morphs into a macho rubber-suited undercover urban warrior by night. Typically Kwanten is either illegally eavesdropping on police dispatch calls with elaborate radio hacking equipment at home, or quickly losing the tie and attache case whenever returning from work and catching wind of random victims crying out.
These surreal when not outright spooky noirish scenes in back alleys early on, with food tins routinely left for stray black cats by a retreating Griff, are the best and most promising episodes. But which then tend to proceed into progressively more sedentary and repetitive scenarios.
Checking in to pick up the narrative pace a bit but not quite enough, is Melody (Maeve Dermody), best described here as a sort of Rainwoman. A pouting and withdrawn recluse who still lives at home and works in her father hardware store, Melody barely tolerates the persistent advances of Griff’s more sane older brother Tim (Patrick Brammall). While she’s way more preoccupied as a self-described ‘experimentalist,’ obsessed with sorting out advanced scientific formulas racing constantly through her head that she summons to enable her to walk through walls. But which leave her repeatedly battered and temporarily unconscious when banging up against those bedroom partitions in question.
So when Melody encounters Griff, she’s inevitably convinced that her alienated kindred spirit has been discovered. Though Griff is in no way in agreement, and in any case too preoccupied at the moment with constructing an invisibility suit, the better to prevail over enemies. But Melody, in won’t take no for an answer mode, aggressively pursues Griff, even infiltrating his strictly off limits apartment lair while he covertly stomps on lemons in his bathtub as essential recipe in attaining invisibility. As an infatuated Melody demands his romantic attention, not exactly as his yin to her yang, but rather the sexual proton to her neutron, don’t ask.
Griff The Invisible evokes many moments of magical weirdness and playful humor, but scattered moments they remain. This, as Griff gets increasingly pegged by the authorities as a person of interest, and potentially guilty of stalking, prowling, voyeurism, vigilantism, or all of the above. Which when you think about it, pretty much sums up the generic dark side of all those superheroes holding court in movies, big or small.
2 1/2 stars