Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I had two fairly major problems with ‘The Invasion’, a movie that I ultimately found entertaining but this doesn’t change the fact that 1) This is the FOURTH version of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.  FOURTH!  I know I whine about this all the damn time, but considering that everybody in this country is, or was a screenwriter surely one these people has a semi-original idea so that we wouldn’t have to make the same movie FOUR TIMES! 2) The films director, Oliver Hirschbiegel had his finished film fall out of favor with the studio who sent it back to another director and the Warshowski brothers of ‘The Matrix’ fame to have more action scenes put into his original print.  That’s all good and fine, but it’s fairly obvious in watching the film that it started out as a spooky, eerie and scary movie based on fear, mistrust and uncertainty and ended up turning to into ‘The Running Man’.

Since this is the fourth retelling of this story I don’t really see the point of a plot description, but I’ll do it anyway since it’s what I do.  As our film opens the Space Shuttle is crashing to earth upon reentry.  I hope this flick isn’t the on-board movie on the current Space Shuttle Endeavor.  As the debris for the shuttle is scattered all over Texas, CDC director Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam) is called to the scene to investigate some weird looking spores attached to the wreckage.  If Tucker was a little more careful he would have been watching the piece of wreckage that some bratty kid passed his way, but as such the contamination is now on.

Tucker’s ex-wife, Washington DC psychiatrist Carol Bennel (Nicole Kidman), has a solid career, a precocious six year old named Oliver (Jackson Bond) and the like of a good man in Dr. Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig), notices something is amiss when one of her patients (Veronica Cartwright) complains that her abusive husband isn’t her husband any more.  Carol finds this peculiar, but it seems that

people all over aren’t acting like themselves, including her ex-husband who is really hot to reestablish a relationship with his young son all of the sudden.  With the epidemic now reaching catastrophic proportions, Dr. Ben’s colleague Dr. Galeano (Jeffrey Wright) has managed to isolate the alien virus, and has discovered that if infected, the change occurs when you enter REM sleep.  Carol’s problems have now escalated and become two fold in that she absolutely, positively cannot fall asleep due to the shenanigans of her ex-husband, and she has to find her missing son who is apparently immune to the alien infection and may hold the cure.  But who can you trust?

Even though making the same movie four times is a bit much, one can almost get away with it with ‘Body Snatchers’ because the Body Snatcher mythos usually stands for something greater than itself.  In Don Siegel’s original from the fifties it was McCarthyism and communism, in Phillip Kaufman’s remake from 1978 it was convoluted sexuality and male / female relationships ( Go to for a ridiculously in-depth examination of that film)  Abel Ferrara’s remake from 1993 represented little or nothing and the film suffered for it.  John Carpenters ‘They Live’ from 1988 would have been the more definitive body snatcher film considering the similar story line and its attack of the Reagan-era cash grab and the exploitation of the working class.  Hirschbiegel’s version certainly is on the attack as post 9/11 America lives in complete and total fear and isolation from the rest of the world.  The fact that the change occurs in our sleep is clearly symbolic and the films shows long lines of American citizens standing in line waiting to be ‘inoculated’ from this ‘flu’ simply because our government has told them it will keep them ‘safe’.  It is also not a coincidence that the rest of the world is virtually unaffected by the alien virus, but there are subtle scenes embedded in this film of our government going abroad to ‘help cure’ the rest of the world whether they want our help or not.  The genius of this subtext is that it was happening in the periphery with the primary focus still remaining on the Nicole Kidman character suffering through the trials and tribs that movie heroines have to suffer through.  What I’m saying is that the film was working.  It was scary, ominous, oppressive and left the film watcher filled with doom and dread.  In my opinion it was not necessary to shoot scenes with cars catching on fire, police cars ramming into other cars and more cars crashing into cars  and then send Nicole Kidman on a mad foot race against a billion aliens to ‘spice up’ the movie.  Plus the scenes FEEL tacked on and out place in accordance with the rest of the flow of the film.

Kidman is a fine actress who can easily carry a film, hell she has the hardware to prove it, and young Jackson Bond is a very good child actor.  Let’s see what the kid can do when he stops being cute though.  I’m talking to you McCauley.  Even though I do recommend ‘The Invasion’ because it WAS entertaining, this is one film where I will be looking forward to the DVD director’s cut to see the movie that Hirchbiegel actually envisioned and not the ‘pumped up’ version that Warner Brothers thought we needed to see.  They obviously think we are asleep and they’re trying to force us to take a shot that we don’t need.  Don’t go for it people.

SPOILER:  Jeffrey Wright, a Black man, saves the world.  This almost makes up for Joe Morton destroying the world in ‘Terminator 2’. END SPOILER.

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