Title: Griff the Invisible
Directed By: Leon Ford
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody, Toby Schmitz, Patrick Brammall
Sure, it’s fun watching the DC and Marvel men run around with their massive biceps, annihilating villains with otherworldly powers and weapons, but it’s Hollywood’s obsession with the surreal that makes a more modest superhero production like Griff the Invisible all the more appealing. No, Griff doesn’t fly, crush monsters or become invisible for that matter, but the guy is able to use his lack of extraordinary abilities to more impressively sway us with the ordinary.
Griff’s (Ryan Kwanten) got it rough. Not only is he stuck at a desk all day, but he’s also the office recluse. When he’s not hiding out in his cubicle or getting picked on by office bully, Tony (Toby Schmitz), Griff’s at home monitoring his high tech computer system and radars, keeping an eye on the area for any criminal activity. Why? Because when Griff’s not at work, he’s the superhero Griff the Invisible.
Well, actually, he’s not invisible just yet, but he does have a slew of the traditional superhero goodies like a killer costume and some wicked battle skills. Problem is, his identity isn’t really a secret. His brother, Tim (Patrick Brammall), knows what he’s up to and, thanks to the problems Griff’s moonlighting habits caused in the past, he doesn’t think it’s a particularly healthy side job. However, in Tim’s effort to nudge Griff in a more “normal” direction, he winds up introducing him to one of few people who not only accepts Griff for who he is, but encourages it, Melody (Maeve Dermody).
No, there aren’t as many wannabe superhero movies as there are Marvel and DC CGI adventures, but recently, we’ve seen more than ever, with Kick-Ass, Defendor and Super all arriving in the last year. So now, the question is, does Griff offer a fresh take on the sub-genre? Yes. Does it work? Not entirely.
Griff’s innovation comes from the uncertainty of what Griff’s really capable of. Sure, he rocks a seemingly authentic costume and appears to be able to handle himself in a fight, but there’s also quite a bit to suggest that Griff isn’t as professional as he seems. Ford does a fantastic job of introducing us to our main man and making him instantly worthy of our sympathy. It’s this connection that not only holds your attention from beginning to end, but makes the viewer invested in the experience.
From there, Ford compels you to maintain that connection by dissecting Griff, layer by layer. Griff experiences an intense character arc, as not only does he change extensively from beginning to end, but the audience’s perspective of him changes, too. A prime element to this shift is how much credit Ford gives his audience. Griff’s growth isn’t spoon-fed in the least; in fact, Ford often leaves it to the viewer to discover the truth in a moment, a tactic that could leave several plot points up for debate, but one that also makes Griff the Invisible an interactive experience, as it requires the audience to think.
Kwanten also deserves a great deal of credit, as he’s able to have fun with the character while keeping control of Griff’s transformation. Griff is the kind of guy who forces you to consider every facial twist, sigh and stare in an effort to figure him out. Kwanten’s performance suggests he has a concrete understanding of who Griff is and 110% gives himself to the role.
Still, there are elements of the film that aren’t running at peak level, which, in the case of such a thoughtful story, can create narrative gaps or simply confuse the viewer. The first glaring issue is Tim’s relationship with Melody. There is absolutely nothing about these two people that suggests they’d ever be able to share something romantic with one another. There’s nothing wrong with them going on a date and failing, but their sub-story pushes a little too hard and ultimately throws Melody into Griff’s arms rather than giving her a gentle nudge in his direction.
Also, Melody’s intentions are a bit too hard to read. She’s supposed to be some smart young scientist, but then she spends her free time attempting to walk through walls. Whereas Griff’s behavior in the office reflects his unusual hobby, Melody appears to have her head on too straight to bother which such nonsense. Then, because the connection between her serious and ludicrous sides is a bit off, it’s tough to make sense of what she’s after with Griff. While the ambiguous nature of Griff the Invisible’s superhero portion works wonders, the romantic one isn’t defined enough to handle it and that part of the film just comes across as hazy.
Regardless, Griff the Invisible is one of those take it, or leave films; you either accept the adventure this guy is on or you think it’s ridiculous and want nothing of it. If Griff’s charm works on you at the onset, you’ll undoubtedly fall for his efforts through and through and be on board for the duration of the film.