Thursday 14 May 2020

Movie Review: The Invasion (2007)

A science fiction thriller, The Invasion features a good if familiar build-up but falls victim to tired hide-and-seek trivialities.

Debris from a space shuttle disaster carries a fungus-like organism to Earth. When infected victims fall asleep, they are transformed to emotionless beings devoid of any passion but still eager to hunt down and spread the infection to others. Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam) is a Director at the Center for Disease Control and among the first to be infected. He uses his position of authority to quickly spread the disease.

In Washington DC, psychiatrist Dr. Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is Tucker's ex-wife with primary custody of their young son Oliver. She is friends with Dr. Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig) but reluctant to evolve the relationship. Her patient Wendy Lenk (Veronica Cartwright) starts to describe her husband's weirdly emotionless behaviour, and gradually Carol notices increasing numbers of impassive people. Along with Ben and his colleague Dr. Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), Carol has to keep Oliver safe and figure out how to stop the infections while fending off hordes of pursuers.

Another iteration of the Invasion Of The Body Snatchers story, this version introduces peace-on-earth as an added bonus of a uniformly conformist society. But the David Kajganich script carries little conviction to push towards any valid intellectual debate. Instead a limp denouement undermines any pretense of cerebral intentions, and what remains is a largely forgettable chase thriller.

Which is unfortunate for Nicole Kidman. Her performance as a resilient doctor and mother coping with the unfolding horror is much better than the material. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel is rarely able to surround her with worthwhile plot elements, and the film's prolonged climax has all the freshness of a leftover 1980s Steven Seagal guns cars and helicopter flick. As Kidman does her best to wring drama out of the must-stay-awake imperative, the horror elements remain half-hearted and meld into warmed-over chase action.

In contrast the first 40 minutes are better as tension builds in measured doses and Carol is introduced as a well-rounded smart and caring character worth knowing. Veronica Cartwright provides welcome linkage back to the 1978 version, but Daniel Craig, Jeffrey Wright and Jeremy Northam barely register in underwritten roles. The Invasion is a story told once too often, now truncated in both title and depth.

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