Film Reviews

The Invasion Oliver Hirschbiegel

Rating - 8/10

The Invasion is not a horror film, it is a thriller, but even then it's not. Really, it's a metaphor, remade for the 21st century and aided with technology (texting!) and armed forces. A world where paranoia runs rampant and headlines display news on the Iraq war daily. It is our world and we're just living in it.

And so is Nicole Kidman, obviously. Here she plays Carol, divorced mother of one, who is a psychiatrist, one who, upon learning of her patient's husband's sudden mood change prescribes her anti-psychotics. Hey, she just works here. She has a best friend who may or may not be a love interest in the form of Daniel Craig's Ben. She has an ex-husband, Tucker (Jeremy Northam), who is newly aliened. And there are aliens.

The aliens this time come in the form of an infected spacecraft, crash-landed and torn apart from "D.C. to Dallas." It is viral, passed through liquids (vomit, even) and left to take over during REM sleep. And soon the world is taken over, Carol and Ben running for their lives to find Carol's son, Oliver, (in Tucker's clutches) and get to a cure, which could very well be found in the immune Oliver.

The Invasion is the rare thriller that spells out its meanings without being heavy-handed; do not let the reiterated preaching of director Oliver Herschbiegel and writer Dave Kajganich's aliens throw you off. It's the small, subtle changes in the atmosphere that blur the lines between right and wrong; headlines boast the Iraq war over, the added peace across America. In a way, The Invasion finds comfort in Carol's steadfast determination to remain human; in another, it gives a little levity to alien mentality: There is no war, there is only peace. You cannot look down on others because there is no other.

That's The Invasion's biggest draw: Would we give up what makes us human to live in a world where we aren't divided for it? It contemplates this question and doesn't give easy answers; it's obvious what's right, but what makes the invasion wrong? It's interesting then that Kidman's Carol is a psychiatrist; for a woman who spends her life handing people narcotics to counter and control whatever makes them harmful to themselves or others, she is dead set on becoming anything but not human. As one character tells her, "What makes what we're doing so different?"

In Carol's plight, Kidman proves she really isn't a fluke, providing brain for her beauty. She is down-to-earth, quick to avoid trouble but not without hesitation. It's her natural charismatic acting and bouncy hair-do that makes her lamest lines seem convincing. The same goes for the ever-welcome Daniel Craig, his Ben the nerdy cool to his Bond's suave cool. They carry the film, even to the film's biggest misstep in its warm ending; a product of re-shoots (courtesy of the Wachowski brothers, who also added a little nifty car chase), the end holds a certain level of credibility but feels too swift and contrived.

So it's not horrific or particularly thrilling, slightly unhinged by its boisterous editing when characters become frantic, but The Invasion at the very least is thought provoking. What really makes its happy ending happy, or an end at all? What's stopping America, the first to find a cure (after jumping to conclusions to report the invasion as a flu epidemic to simultaneously frighten but comfort the equally quick to jump American population), from turning around and using this as a contained weapon? The Invasion may never ask these questions, but in our age of paranoia and WMDs, it doesn't even have to. It just has to tell us a story; we fill in the blanks.