Science fiction and fantasy
directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
In this version the crisis begins with a space shuttle which crash lands, spreading contaminated debris over a wide area. It's covered with spores, and people are warned not to touch it and to stay well away.
Dr Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is a divorced mother with a young son she feels very protective of. She worries that he's having nightmares because he knows he's going to meet his father, who hasn't been around for most of his childhood. Tucker (Jeremy Northam) works for the CDC, and he doesn't normally show much interest in his offspring.
Carol works as a psychiatrist, and one of her patients reports that her abusive husband is behaving oddly. Soon enough it's clear that he isn't the only one to be acting out of character. The Invasion moves quickly through the initial parts of the plot, rather than taking time to build suspense about what is happening. Carol goes from wondering what's going on to trying to escape the attention of the people who have been turned.
Luckily Carol is dating Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig), a charming colleague who knows people who are able to figure out more about the infection. The alien consciousness seems to require dream sleep in order to activate itself and to take over human hosts. So Carol runs around desperately trying to stay awake, using any means possible. Unfortunately her red-rimmed eyes and sleepy movements are liable to make the audience feel exhausted in sympathy with her. That's not the best reaction for a film to elicit, even if it's the result of good acting rather than a dull plot. A combination of both of those things is to blamed for all the droopy eyelids this adaptation causes.
The alien takeover isn't entirely malevolent, and for some people it has its benefits. Carol's family circumstances, and her discussion with a Russian diplomat, make this movie about more than merely a matter of escaping alien rule. It encompasses the lengths people will go to in order to preserve their free will and independence, and what a parent will do for the sake of her child.
The film ends abruptly, and doesn't really dwell on any stage of the story. The beginning is the most interesting section of this movie, and once the chasing and fighting begins it's more or less over. The Invasion is quick to make its point, quick to get to the action, and fast to conclude. There's no point where the plot drags, but neither is there much opportunity to explore the moral dilemmas Carol is presented with. A film like this doesn't have much scope for special effects, so in that respect it lacks the glamour and escapism of something that's entirely new and alien. It's more about the idea than the presentation. But the speed that this story is told makes it lacklustre and underwhelming, even though the cast is effective and the dialogue works well.
If you like this, try:The Stepford Wives by Frank Oz
This update of Ira Levin's novel explores the sinister side of housework.