Movie Review for The Invasion (2007)

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Review #507 of 365
Movie Review of The Invasion (2007) [R] 93 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $13.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 18 August 2007
Time: 12:50 pm
DVD Release Date: 8 January 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: Download now from John Ottman - The Invasion - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel (The Downfall)
Screenplay by: Dave Kajganich (debut) based on Jack Finney's novel, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Nicole Kidman (Happy Feet) • Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) • Jeremy Northam (Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story) • Jackson Bond ("In Case of Emergency") • Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Read the spoiler points here.
To warrant a third theatrical film remake, the themes of Jack Finney's novel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers must still be resonating with some filmmakers. In this version, directed by acclaimed German director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, from a screenplay by Dave Kajganich, the political overtones are hard to miss as the story has been seamlessly updated to fit the current times taking on extra baggage and meaning as if ripped from the headlines of real global paranoia. The fictional Space Shuttle Patriot has gloomily and eerily blown up upon re-entry spreading its debris from Texas to the District of Columbia. Rather quickly, the CDC is called in for unknown reasons, and warnings are put out that no one should touch the fallen pieces.

"…Nicole Kidman is absolutely at the top of her game…Tense, unnerving in places, scary and / or horrifying on multiple levels, the film is compelling it its ability to get under the skin."
Of course, USAers never listen to or follow warnings if there is a prospect for cash to be made on eBay, and the government quickly finds itself with a problem. A mysterious flu epidemic is making every one sick. Dr. Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman), a psychiatrist with a practice in Washington, gets her first taste of the results of the flu when a long-time patient of hers comes in with a story and a disturbing comment, "My husband is not my husband." Her own ex-husband, Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam) has returned from Atlanta where he happens to be one of the chief physicians for the Center for Disease Control (CDC), with sudden and inexplicable desires to see their son, Oliver (Jackson Bond). Still, while is seems people are starting to behave oddly all around her, she avoids the signs, and lets Oliver stay overnight with his father while she attends a dinner party with her best friend and confidant, Dr. Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig) at the home of the Czech Ambassador and his wife. It is at this dinner party that the writer's hand is tipped and we get a glance at the underpinnings of his thinking about humanity when the also-invited Russian Ambassador quizzes Carol about her feelings about human society, the ram animal within us all, and the choices of governments when it comes to solving global issues. She handles him well, but it is clear that the policy of violence and war above diplomacy is challenged and labeled as basal and innate therefore less evolved. Once home again, she is paid a visit from a horrifying and celestially creepy census agent who basically tries to break into her home. All around her, there are weird signs that things are not right. Emotionless children, the government claiming to have a vaccine for the flu strain they've whipped up in a few days, her regular patients canceling appointments, the police hauling of people who claim "they're here". Tension builds and panic finally sets in when Carol realizes that her ex husband is not her ex husband and her child is in serious danger. Rescuing him and getting him to safety becomes her one and only objective. Driven to find him, matters are complicated as she and her friends begin to unravel the mystery behind the disease and seek to find ways to prevent it and eventually eradicate it. See the spoiler points for more details on that. The rest of the film then focuses on her retrieval of Oliver and her attempts to protect him from the Body Snatchers.

Nicole Kidman is absolutely at the top of her game in this role. Occasionally, she's been known to come across as a teeny bit pretentious, but there's none of that here. She's solid, dead on, in absorbing herself into this character. It is amazing to watch her reactions and to consider being in her place in real life. This is one of her best and most remarkable performances of her career. Likewise, the little guy, Jackson Bond, who portrays her son with a special ability, delivers one of the best performances by a child actor since Haley Joel Osment's, Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense. He's a younger kid, who is expected to do some very brave things. He, too, seems to have really gotten into his character. As for the male leads, Daniel Craig's role, unfortunately, is not as well fleshed out as it needed to be. It borders on being too subtle, and therefore, his ability to make the character as strong as it needs to be to match Ms Kidman is hampered quite a bit. The same would almost be true for Jeremy Northam's character except that he is converted to a pod person in nearly the first few minutes of the film forcing him to deliver a pod person performance—which he does exceptionally well. It's just unfortunate that there was no ability to see a contrast in him between pre and post pod person conversion. These four carry the bulk of the film's dialogue and purpose despite a cast of hundreds of emotionless, zombie-like, peaceful droning pod people.

Throughout the filming and making of this film, it has endured any number of problems including a real-life Nicole Kidman injury and a studio that apparently doubted the effectiveness of Oliver Hirschbiegel's version of the film. They were apparently so nervous the film would fail they brought in the Wachowski brothers to tweak the action scenes with reshoots. Without being able to compare the befores and afters, it's impossible to know now if the film was just fine before the tweaking or not. Even with the hand of the Matrix brothers, The Invasion remains a low special-effects film that relies more on the political and social allegory to generate fear and to make the points. This version pushes the envelope a bit further by hammering home the perhaps misguided notion that, to be human, we must choose the violent solution and will even turn down an offer to eradicate from our gene pool that which drives us toward our own mutual annihilation. Tense, unnerving in places, scary and / or horrifying on multiple levels, the film is compelling it its ability to get under the skin. Where it disappoints is in the area of the quick wind-down of the ending. There is too much build up for this rushed, almost forced ending, that would have been far better were it to have been given another 20-30 minutes and a greater confrontation between the pod people leaders and their agenda as it clashed with the notion of the non-pod people's sense of what it means to be human. Because of the rapid ending, these points had to be absorbed too quickly which decreased their impact. The studios need to stop being so preoccupied with running time and let films take their natural course.

Still Photo Gallery for The Invasion (2007)

Nicole Kidman as Dr. Carol Bennell

Daniel Craig as Dr. Ben Driscoll

Jackson Bond as Oliver

Narrow Escape

"My Dad is not my Dad."

"You can fool them, show no emotion."

alternate poster

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring The Invasion (2007)
Cast Members
Nicole KidmanDaniel CraigJeremy Northam
Jackson BondJeffrey Wright
Oliver Hirschbiegel
Dave Kajganich
CD Soundtrack

Review-lite The Invasion (2007) [max of 150 words]
At the top of her game, Nicole Kidman delivers one of her best performances ever as Dr. Carol Bennell, the psychiatrist mother who helps to bring down an alien invasion in this Oliver Hirschbiegel's remake of David Finney's original novel Invasion of the Body Snatchers called simply, The Invasion. Wasting no time, an alien virus, brought to earth in the debris from the fictional Space Shuttle Patriot's burn up upon re-entry, infects leaders of the US government and the populous, converting them into docile, emotionless pod people while they sleep. Rescuing her son from her pod-person husband becomes Bennelle's sole focus, as this social and political allegory forces us all to confront the inhumanity that makes us human or does it?

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1 comment:

patrick said...

i like pretty much anything with daniel craig... this movie was an interesting cross between sterile stillness and exciting escapes, etc.