“For me to imagine a world where every crisis did not result in new atrocities, where every newspaper was not filled with war and violence, that is to imagine a world where human beings cease to be human.”
Political and social commentary mix with thrills, action, and science fiction in Invasion, based on Jack Finney's classic 1955 novel, The Body Snatchers. Nicole Kidman (The Others, The Hours) plays psychiatrist Carol Bennell (the book’s main character was named Miles Bennell) who lives in Washington D.C. Veronica Cartwright, who appeared in the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, makes a memorable impression as one of Carol’s troubled patients who suspects odd things about her husband. Her suspicions and other fantastical events prompt Carol’s brave actions, which escalate dramatically when she believes her son, played by newcomer Jackson Bond, needs immediate help. Kidman creates an admirable and surprisingly strong protagonist as her willingness to take action saves other people from a frightening fate.
Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) plays Dr. Ben Driscoll, Carol’s close friend and colleague. Ben has a strong, loyal friendship with Carol, which ultimately puts himself at great risk as they battle for their lives. Craig’s Casino Royale co-star Jeffrey Wright plays Dr. Stephen Galeano, a friend of Carol and Ben. Stephen helps Ben and Carol uncover a mysterious microbiotic entity at his secured lab while guiding them outside the lab. Jeremy Northam (The Net, The Tudors) plays Tucker, a key figure in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who must address mysterious occurrences that eventually reach a world wide level.
First time screenwriter Dave Kajganich balances the ideological edge from the book with fast paced action throughout the brisk 105 minute running time. The plot creates a tense, action packed experience with intriguing concentrations of misinformation and eerie behavior that create some truly shocking moments. Filmmakers often show how people might have saved themselves if they observed activities surrounding them more closely. These events have enough power to overshadow other underdeveloped subplots like a more detailed history of a past marriage between two key characters. More background into the alien observation and their knowledge of Earth would’ve strengthened the plot, especially when audiences might scratch their heads when in-depth political commentary spews from assimilated characters' … well, from their mouths, anyway. If the knowledge assimilation was biological, then even more explanation would be necessary (read the book).
Innocent characters, who are brave enough to inform others of this disturbing oppression, are quickly muted by authorities. “It’s become unsafe to speak out, to stand out. They’re using our fear as their biggest weapon.” Carol and her friends must tread softly and endure several emotional and physical challenges if they want to survive. German Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) directs this emotional film with fellow crew member/director of photography Rainer Klausmann. Hirschbiegel initiates the film with an effective flash forward, which strengthens the plot by creating a “how did she get to that point” attraction for the audience. He continues with several point-of-view shots, especially when protagonists become fatigued while Klausmann gradually lifts the bright colors out of the cinematography as the mysterious entity gains ground.
Composer (and talented editor) John Ottman creates a driving musical score to match the screen action very well. By the end, you might predict a key event leading to a tense, but ultimately convenient ending. Even though Invasion debuted in a somewhat limited summer release (approximately 2,400 theaters), the low six million dollar box office tally was a surprise. Has the usually successful late summer thriller (e.g. Sixth Sense) reached an end? Does this setback mean the thriller genre has reached a crossroads? If you miss this title in theaters, be sure to catch Craig and Kidman (together again in the upcoming Golden Compass) on home video. Recommended and rated PG-13 for frightening images, violence, and terror.