A Regular Joe Takes a Shot at Costumed Vigilantism in "Griff the Invisible"

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 1, 2011

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Grade: C-

When we first meet Griff the Invisible’s titular hero (True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten), he’s only somewhat invisible: Clad in black rubber off-set by a yellow logo on his chest, he thwarts a minor robbery thanks in part to his attire blending in with nighttime. Later on he will prove more ambitious; the film around him does not. By night, Griff hangs in front of a deck of surveillance monitors, waiting for misdemeanors; by day, Griff is a painfully awkward, friendless office monkey tormented by an obnoxious bully. This jerk is, alas, the closest Griff has to an arch-nemesis, which would be an amusing joke, if the film itself were at all conscious of itself.

As superhero movies remain stuck in a dour and humorless rut, it’s hypothetically refreshing to see a movie try to play things semi-realistic while still being essentially frivolous. As a study of a Regular Joe having a go at costumed vigilantism it has little in common with the recent Super, wherein the (anti-)hero was a raving psychopath not above bloodily smashing in the heads of people who cut in lines with a wrench. Griff’s obsession with amateur justice is never depicted as sociopathic, and besides, thanks to a low budget or simply low ambition, he lords over a curiously crime-deprived Aussie metropolis.

He’s simply in love with an immature ideal, a drive that’s paralleled with destined soulmate Melody (Maeve Dermody), a 30-something “experimentalist” who lives with her parents and believes that, due to the space between atoms, she will one day be able to pass through solid matter. Both of their ideas go against the preconceived notions of being “grown-up,” and it’s writer-director Leon Ford’s belief that, rather than suffering from delusions, the two simply have to wait for them to prove true.

That’s a dodgy “moral,”but it’s all Griff the Invisible has to offer. Everything in the film is low stakes but also low rewards—all the more frustrating as a genuinely nutty film could be made from elements like an invisibility suit, people falling through walls and Dermody, who plays Melody as an entirely unapologetic (pretty) nerd prone to rant about the death of cells. As such, Griff could more accurately be described as hollow. 

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