All you need to know about the new thriller, “The Invasion” is that it arrives at theaters near the end of the summer season with limited publicity two years after it was filmed. This “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” meets “War of the Worlds” shares only the premise but none of the smarts of those two sci-fi classics.
Psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Kidman) has all the trappings of success – a successful practice, a loving son and a handsome “best friend,” Ben (Daniel Craig). She also has an ex-husband Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam) who is first to come in contact with the strange alien substance from outer space.
In no time, people are mysteriously becoming soulless, emotionless creatures. When one of Benell’s patients describes disturbing behavior from her husband of 30 years, she decides to investigate, bringing her findings to Ben and his colleague Dr. Galeano (Jeffrey Wright). Soon they discover that the “cold” that’s going around is really the “Virus from Another Planet.” Once infected, the only way to avoid transforming into an alien being is to stay awake.
While the film gets off to a promising start, its story and lack of common sense combine to betray the end results. I lost count of how many times Benell finds herself in situations that simply stretch the fabric of reality. Why a woman would secure a gun twice, use it and throw it away both times was a little strange. Even stranger were scenes when she placed herself in harm’s way seemingly for no clearly explained reason. While all of the transformed around her move about expressionless, Kidman’s character has the same look – from the beginning of the film.
While no stranger to troubled films (“The Stepford Wives” “Fur” and “Eyes Wide Shut”), Kidman is clearly in over her head with this project. As she tries her best to stay awake, so does the audience. From one senseless chase scene to another, characters throwing up on each other and a senseless plot about world peace, “The Invasion” is an utter mess.
While both the original “Body Snatchers” and “War of the Worlds” tapped into the public’s terrifying fear of aliens, “The Invasion” is just a film to fear. Toward the end of the film, Bennell and her son are hiding out from the transformed in a drug store when the little boy asks his mother, “is this what they mean by going nuts?” If you’re talking about this film, kid, unfortunately it is.