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The Invasion (2007)
Rated PG13

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and Jeremy Northam

Rating:
**1/2
out of
*****

The Invasion marks the fourth time that Jack Finney's novel "The Body Snatchers" has been made into a feature film. The first film version was 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, an allegory for the Cold War with the alien invader angle being a thin disguise for the perceived threat of communism. The film was remade in 1978 and again in 1993. Why a 2007 version was necessary is anyone's guess.

The 2007 storyline goes something like this: Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is a successful psychologist. After a bitter divorce, her ex-husband, Tucker (Jeremy Northam), has suddenly come back into her life and is asking for visitation rights for their son, Oliver (Jackson Bond). One of Carol's patients begins complaining that her husband isn't quite himself lately. Apparently, he's strangled their dog but no longer exhibits anger or emotion. Carol prescribes her with anti-psychotic drugs and doesn't think anything of it, until she starts noticing similar behavior in the people around her. As the media reports a strange flu outbreak, the number of people acting disconnected and distant in Carol's life begins to grow, including Tucker, who has just taken Oliver for a weekend visit.

Carol finds something that resembles living mucus in Oliver's Halloween candy and takes it to her friend, Ben (Daniel Craig), who is a doctor, to be analyzed. The lab finds that it's the waste product of an alien organism that finds a host -- a human -- and then infects that person while they're sleeping. It's activated by REM sleep -- or dreams -- and if you're infected, but don't sleep, you won't turn into a full-fledged carrier of the disease.

While watching The Invasion, I thought the direction was a bit schizophrenic. After the movie, I found that two different directors worked on the movie. Original director, Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) produced a cut of the film that was found to be too slow-moving for test audiences. An uncredited additional director, James McTeigue (V for Vendetta,) was brought in to spice up the action. The script was also manipulated by rewrites from the Wachowski Brothers, responsible for The Matrix trilogy and 2008's Speed Racer. If you're familiar with their work, you know that subtlety is not usually their cup of tea. The tension and suspense of the film's opening reels is destroyed by a conclusion that feels as if it came from a completely different movie.

Nicole Kidman doesn't bring anything special to the film. Nor does Daniel Craig, who's much better as the new James Bond. Both are serviceable in their roles, but neither character requires their relative star power.

If you're looking for the definitive film version of "The Body Snatchers," I'd recommend the original 1956 version. Skip this one.

Trivia: While filming in Baltimore, Daniel Craig got the call from Barbara Broccoli informing him he won the role of James Bond. He had to take a short period off shooting to fly back to London for the Casino Royale press release. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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