The Invasion (2007)

Rating: C-

Dir: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Star: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jackson Bond

It appears to be a rule in Hollywood that a remake of the fifties paranoia classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is required about every fifteen years. After Abel Ferrara largely failed with the most recent attempt in 1993, it’s time for another attempt. And, hey! It’s just as pointless! Without wishing to give too much away, I’m reminded of the line from Gremlins 2: “Tonight, on the Clamp Cable Classic Movie Channel, don’t miss Casablanca – now in full color with a happier ending.” That’s pretty much what this version has to offer.

Nicole Kidman plays psychiatrist Carol Bennell, who gradually becomes aware that a disease spread by alien spores is spreading across the nation, converting people into emotionless drones. And it’s being aided by her ex-husband, a CDC consultant (Northam). With her new boyfriend (Craig), Carol sets out to find her son Oliver, who was visiting his father when the epidemic broke out. Though as a side-effect, peace is now breaking out all over Earth – so is our humanity vastly over-rated? Kidman is okay, though hardly does anything to justify her reported $17m pay; almost any actress could have played the role. The main problem is, the movie only sporadically captures the sensation of disorientation and madness which is an essential part of the concept – there’s no other way you could possibly feel, when you increasingly start to think that the people around you are, literally, not themselves.

This needs to be the focus of the movie, not an occasional tangent to the by the numbers, action flick we have here, with Carol making her way through the increasingly chaotic city towards Oliver. The lacklustre shift in tone may be the result of the movie being taken away from Hirschbiegel and a good chunk of it reshot under the director of V For Vendetta, an somewhat ironic fate for the movie, given the subject matter. Really, the most affecting sequences come towards the end, when Carol is struggling desperately to stay awake. Because, by then, the bulk of the audience will most likely be struggling for consciousness, right alongside her. But if the aliens really wanted to succeed they should simply have run a campaign promising “Free iPods for everyone”…