The space shuttle Patriot has crashed as it tried to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, and investigators are on the scene almost immediately, ordering the locals not to touch any of the debris because it might be dangerous. One of those investigators is Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam), and he knows something is wrong with the pieces of the shattered craft when he notices what looks like organic matter covering them. Alas, a little girl hands him a part she has found and it nicks his finger - could he be infected by something? Could the whole world be next?
You'd have thought that Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers provided a cast-iron plot to science fiction and horror moviemakers, and indeed, quite apart from all the imitators to have arrived over the years there are three very good film versions drawn from it, the first one in particular being regarded as a classic of its kind. But something went wrong with director Oliver Hirschbiegel's third official remake, although he was not really the man to blame as very few people know exactly how his vision for the story would have worked out. This is because the production was taken out of his hands after he delivered his apparently more subtle cut of the story.
What that might have been was creepier, and if there's one thing this notion does well is creepy, but the studio decided they wanted a more slam-bang approach and in the process drained the effort of its suspense, and indeed audiences. But was it really a deserving flop? In truth there are aspects to The Invasion that are not too bad, and hint at the film that it could have been if it hadn't opted to amp up the chasing about sequences. Our heroine is no longer Miles Bennell, but Carol Bennell played by Nicole Kidman who might have been better playing one of those taken over and transformed into a soulless entity, but here is a too-bland, earnest supermom.
The film seems to think Carol's relationship with her scamp of a son, Oliver (Jackson Bond), is more interesting than it actually is when all they do with the set up is have her worrying over him at wearisome length, all the more so when it turns out he is one of those immune to the space virus. That virus is turning people into emotionless husks of humanity while they sleep, and spreading throughout not only America but the world as well, but it's all right as we can tell from the way this is set out that we're not headed for a more ambiguous ending of the fifties and nineties versions, and certainly not the incredibly depressing climax of the seventies version. The redone opus as seen here plays it safe far too consistently to get the pulse pounding to any great degree.
Occasionally something intriguing emerges, such as when world peace breaks out due to the number of infected increasing, which hints at a theme of humankind having to be artificially stimulated into getting on with their fellow citizens of the planet, but this goes as far as making parallels with Carol and her ex-husband Tucker and how they could get on if they were alienified and no further. There's an interesting bit where a pod person (although pods are conspicuous by their absence this time around) makes an impassive plea to Carol's tender side by telling her he has a family in a bid to prevent her shooting him dead, but like so much of the stuff they could have capitalised on to make for a richer movie it is nipped in the bud. Daniel Craig shows up to be underused as Carol's scientist boyfriend, simply present so they can have someone to come up with a cure, but there's too much about this that never gets into high gear in spite of empty but energetic moves towards thrill sequences. Overemphatic music by John Ottman.