In 1955, a novel called The Body Snatchers was released. As of writing, there have been four film adaptations of that novel, with certain changes being made each iteration. Movies need to keep with the times, after all. The fourth adaptation is titled The Invasion, and it stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, although the latter is only “starring” in the sense that his name gets to be on the poster and advertised in hopes to draw in more viewers.
We begin with a space ship crashing to Earth. For some reason, a virus has attached itself to the destroyed shuttle. It infects one person, and then another, and then a great deal more. You know how these things work. Eventually everyone and their mother are infected. The infected wind up becoming emotionless and — actually, that’s about it. They’re exactly the same as they always were, except they don’t sweat and don’t show emotion. Oh, and then there’s also the fact that they’ll relentlessly chase anyone who hasn’t been infected. How they manage not to break a sweat during a chase scene is beyond me.
We meet Carol Bennell (Kidman), who is a psychiatrist. One of her patients mentions that her husband no longer acts like her husband. We know why, but nobody in the movie does. Carol begins noticing things are wrong, especially when her ex-husband, who she claims she hasn’t seen in four years, moves back into town and wants to spend time with her son, Oliver (Jackson Bond). And then more people start becoming infected. Carol and her friend Ben (Craig) see someone get infected firsthand, and that scares them, as it should.
Because all infection movies have different rules, here are the ones this time around. The virus can be spread by any contact with it, meaning that if it gets put in your drink, or if you swap body fluids with someone who has it, you’ll become infected. But you won’t actually “turn” until you enter REM sleep. If you can stay awake, you’ll stay completely human. Of course, one of the prominent characters gets infected at one point, and ends up having to fight to stay awake. Another claims that you can “easily” stay awake for a week. I’m not so sure about that, but I suppose those are comforting words to someone who could fall asleep at any moment.
There are moments in The Invasion that don’t make a lot of sense, unless of course you’re in a medical profession. If that’s the case, there’s a good chance you’ll know that a lot of things said are actually false, or couldn’t work scientifically. That comes with the territory here, especially considering we’re talking about an alien virus. It would have been nice for a simpleton version of the science involved though, but we never get that. I still don’t know what exactly makes a select number of the population immune. I think it was some variation of chickenpox, but why that makes you immune is only explained in jargon.
For a lot of the time, we watch people going from place to place, trying to avoid the zombies that people become once infected. This isn’t much of a threat, considering that they’ll only run if they suspect you of being free of infection, and fooling them is as easy as walking slowly and keeping a semi-straight face. They’re easy to kill, with a simple shot in the face or heart doing the trick. And if you really want to stop them from turning, wake them up while they sleep; they’ll go into anaphylactic shock.
Despite the enemies not being all that terrifying, there’s a lot of intense moments scattered throughout The Invasion. My heart was pounding for quite a lot of this film, and it definitely doesn’t linger. It doesn’t reach two hours in length, and that’s a good thing, as it doesn’t need to run for a long time. It comes, gives a few tense moments, and then it leaves. Does it have much on its mind? No, not really, which means it doesn’t reach the upper echelon of science fiction films, but it’s busy enough to keep you entertained for just over an hour and a half.
There are moments, however, that fail to give us anything. No excitement, no thrills, nothing intellectually stimulating — just there. Whether it be to explain the plot, or to set things up, these moments come around a little too often for my liking. Most movies have some of them, but the good ones don’t make them readily apparent. This film comes to a complete stop whenever they pop up, and it takes a while for the momentum to be regained after they do.
The actors give it their all, but apart from Kidman, everyone is underused. Daniel Craig needed a much bigger role, as did Jeffrey Wright. For a child actor, Jackson Bond did a pretty good job, largely because by the end of the film, I wasn’t annoyed with him. However, when actors are supposed to be pretending to not have emotions — and I’m mostly looking at Kidman here — it was quite apparent that they still did. I would have figured that people infected by an alien virus would be not be fooled so easily, but I guess it isn’t that strong a virus anyway.
The Invasion is watchable, but that’s about as good as it gets. There are great moments, and ones that really get your heart racing, but every now and then, we come to a screeching halt, and it takes a long time to get the momentum that was building up back. It has a good cast and a good premise, but is predictable, doesn’t have great enemies, and doesn’t use its cast to the best of its ability.