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Movie Review

A NASA shuttle disintegrates on reentry. While scientists are examining the wreckage, they discover an odd spore on the surface of the metal debris that's tough enough to survive the frigid vacuum of space as well as the red-hot return to Earth. After the researchers reveal this information to Tucker Kaufman, the government scientist in charge, he promptly pricks his finger on a shard of spore-covered metal and, thinking nothing of it, goes home to bed.

Overnight, the alien organisms run rampant through Tucker's system and envelope him physically in membranous goo. The next morning, he looks normal again, but he's much more even-keeled and seems perfectly at peace. A fact that doesn't please his ex-wife, Carol, since he suddenly declares that he wants visitation rights with their young son after several years of absence.

Carol, who's a psychiatrist, is also concerned when a patient proclaims that her husband is not really her husband. (Other such assertions about a whole host of people seem to be all over the Internet since the crash, too.) The truth is that all who came in contact with the crash site have become carriers of a DNA-altering virus. Tucker himself is quickly spreading the bug through a government inoculation program for the current "flu" that's going around. Within days millions have fallen asleep and reawakened as part of a new emotionless brotherhood.

That's the brave new world in which Carol and her scientist boyfriend, Ben, must try to stop the unstoppable. Carol's first priority, however, is to get her son back from Tucker. The boy's life is in danger. And he could be the source of a cure.

Her second priority? Stay awake.

Positive Elements

Beyond the standard step-up-and-save-the-world-from-destruction stuff, Carol is a mother who will go anywhere and risk anything for the sake of her son, Oliver. Ben is very much in love with Carol. And even though his lovely psychiatrist friend is hesitant to let their relationship go beyond a goodnight kiss, Ben is content to be patiently consistent and sacrificially devoted. Even when Carol admits to being infected, Ben hugs her and says, "There is nothing I wouldn't do for you."

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Tucker's girlfriend strips down to a tank top and panties before bed. Carol reveals bra and panties, and wears a thin, form-fitting T-shirt and a low-cut dress. Ben and Carol kiss several times in his car before she backs off. After helping Carol, Ben jokes that she owes him an hour on her couch—wink, wink.

Violent Content

None of the violence is grotesquely gory, but much of it looks and sounds very real. It's disturbing to watch the space shuttle break apart and explode. And a good chunk of the movie's third act is devoted to some pretty visceral up-close-and-personal violence.

When "normal" people show emotion, the infected swarm them and drag them away. A man and woman hold hands and commit suicide by jumping off a rooftop. (We see everything but the impact.) A woman is seen being hit by a speeding car. (The force of the collision sends her flying.) A dog attacks an infected boy. (He throttles it.) A man has his arm slammed in a door. A woman has a bloodied arm. Another woman is tasered. Carol bashes a pursuing man in the face with a fire extinguisher. In a dream, Carol is hit in the back of the head by her own doppelganger.

Along with a variety of car crashes and explosions, a Molotov cocktail is smashed against the window of a speeding vehicle. A crowd of people cling to Carol's car and are dragged along or thrown crunching and splatting to the ground. When Carol strikes a trash dumpster with her car, what looks like a mucous-covered person bounces across the hood. A policeman is seen on the ground with a gunshot wound to his head.

Carol takes another policeman's gun and shoots him and several other infected people—point-blank and in succession. And when she falls asleep, Oliver follows Carol's orders and plunges a hypodermic needle into her heart.

[Spoiler Warning] Oliver hits his dad in the leg with a pipe. Dad grabs the pipe and begins to choke the boy with it. Carol responds by putting a hammer into Tucker's head. Earlier, Carol is chased and battered by her alien-infected ex-husband. Both scenes uncomfortably evoke images of domestic violence.

Likewise, it's meant to be understood because, well, he's infected, but it's still more than a little jolting to watch Carol knock a kid out by smacking his head against a bedpost.

Crude or Profane Language

The s-word makes two appearances. God's name is exclaimed several times; Carol commingles it with "d--n" once. Jesus' name is misused at least three times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

To stay awake, Carol injects herself with a stimulant and swallows fistfuls of prescription pills she takes from an abandoned drugstore. Carol, Ben and others drink wine and cocktails at a dinner party. (It's implied that Carol gets a bit tipsy.)

Other Negative Elements

Infected people spread their virus by spitting/vomiting into other people's drinks or projectile vomiting in their faces. The gross membrane that encases them during their transition is seen quite a few times.


"Just in case." That's what Carol says when she fills a hypodermic needle with a drug and says that it probably won't need to be plunged into her heart. Naturally, it's soon sticking out of her chest.

You "know" it's going to happen as soon as she says it. And you also "know," before you even enter the theater, that a film like The Invasion will have some kind of political or social subtext lurking beneath its planet-extinguishing exterior. The original 1954 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, for example, was an alien-pods-replacing-people cautionary tale that mirrored our nation's fear over the struggles between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Some 20 years later, a post-Watergate version of the title redirected the paranoia spotlight to our mistrust of government and the need for individual identity versus an oblivious, conforming society. Then, 1993 witnessed the third visit from the pod people in Body Snatchers. This time around, intrigue was replaced by blasts of blood and gore in a story that ended with an unresolved question mark—which could be seen as a pretty good reflection of the blasé attitude of the '90s. "We're gonna be transformed into mind-numbed aliens? Great, hand me a latte."

So, people will most likely try to overlay the 2007 version of the movie with personal interpretations of its "real" purpose. Star Nicole Kidman, for instance, thinks it means that "we're trying to devalue our emotions and make ourselves far more of a collective sort of group of people that don't have individual reactions to things. But at the same time, I see the film very much about people reaching out to each other under extraordinary duress, and the power of that, and the need for that."

My take? At its core, The Invasion simply asks us to ponder the possible price of creating a world without violence and crises. As people are taken over by the one-minded alien virus, peace starts breaking out all around the globe. But the script's countering refrain is that such grand "accomplishments" are being achieved in "a world where human beings cease to be human." Which, in a way, is an accidental statement about mankind's fallen condition. While man is the sinful creature that he is, war and hatred will inevitably exist.

But the deep thoughts pretty much stop there. The Invasion is much too busy obsessing over Carol's personal predicaments—which usually involve her either shooting or stunt-driving her way out of the clutches of zombified former friends and lovers.

It's been reported that the studio didn't really like director Oliver Hirschbiegel's finished work, so they brought in a team of creative people from the movie V for Vendetta (director James McTeigue and writer/producers Andy and Larry Wachowski) to rewrite and reshoot some vital scenes. As a result the finished Invasion is a briskly-paced mishmash of violence and tension with some glaring holes in its logic and an ending that you'll miss if you blink. Fans of the Wachowski Bros. (they also helmed The Matrix movies) will probably deem it a way-cool sci-fi actioner full of double and triple meanings, but most everybody else will walk out thinking about little more than Ms. Kidman's latest look. Oh, and, I knew he was gonna have to stab her in the heart! (Not that that's a good thing.)

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Nicole Kidman as Carol Bennell; Daniel Craig as Ben Driscoll; Jeremy Northam as Tucker Kaufman; Jackson Bond as Oliver; Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Stephen Galeano


Oliver Hirschbiegel ( )


Warner Bros.



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Bob Hoose

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