Most people already know this film’s chequered history. Originally slated for a 2006 release, rewrites and reshoots were undertaken in 2007 courtesy of the Wachowskis and James McTeigue respectively.
One has to assume that director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) chose this as his English language debut for a reason. The first half of the film is actually rather good. The pacing is swift and it’s surprisingly engaging for a film we’ve seen before. Nicole Kidman (Carol Bennell) is fine, and the chemistry between her and Daniel Craig (Ben Driscoll) is pretty good. Carol’s son Oliver is played by Jackson Bond, who unfortunately has a tendency to go into cutesy overload. The oft-under utilised Jeffrey Wright plays Dr. Stephen Galeano; that he makes all of his exposition dialogue so interesting is testament to his acting prowess. The fact that Dr. Stephen seems to have a constant telepathic link with the international scientific community is rather hard to swallow, but it’s a small complaint. Lastly, Jeremy Northam plays placid sinister so very, very well.
The invasion itself is well handled. Screenwriter Dave Kajganich assumes his audience is savvy with the rather old-fashioned concept, so for a change lets the characters have a modicum of intelligence. The insidious nature of the takeover is fantastic, with clear attention paid to the power of the media. The subtext is rather blunt but interesting enough.
It’s rather upsetting to see such potential go off the rails. It isn’t hard to spot the changes that were made to the original print – there are awkward montages, characters jump from one location to the next arbitrarily, and we have an action-oriented climax that simply feels out of place. I have no idea what sort of ending Hirschbiegel directed, but I’m assuming it was a little more cerebral than a ‘running out of time’-type concept. The ending itself is sudden and unsatisfying.
That Australians had to wait even longer than the US to see this film is a travesty, but The Invasion really isn’t something that warrants the price of a cinema ticket. For the most part it’s well made, but the (obvious though unproven) studio interference can only anger the die-hard cinema buff. We can blame the test audiences for their initial responses, but it’s the studios’ fault for paying too much attention to those damn scorecards.
A potentially great film turned dull.Rating: