"The Invasion" deserves a second chance on DVD. This ambitious sci-fi thriller represents a flawed yet worthy attempt to bring contemporary vitality to Jack Finney's classic science fiction novel, previously filmed as Don Siegel's 1956 classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", Philip Kaufman's suspenseful 1978 remake, and Abel Ferrara's highly underrated "Body Snatchers" from 1994. And while those earlier films are superior in many respects, "The Invasion" is not without strengths of its own, particularly for those who prefer action and suspense. Unfortunately these strengths were compromised by the unpredictable misfortunes of production: Original director Oliver Hirschbiegel (hired on the strength of "Downfall") was eventually replaced by James McTiegue ("V for Vendetta"), and the Wachowski Brothers (of "Matrix" trilogy fame) added high-octane action sequences to the original screenplay by David Kajganich. Perhaps the movie had a curse on it (star Nicole Kidman was almost seriously injured in a stunt-car mishap during last-minute reshoots), but it's really just a matter of disparate ingredients that don't always fit together, resulting in a slick-looking film that can't decide if it's a sci-fi mystery, action thriller, or political allegory. It tries too hard to be all things at once.
Despite this, Kidman rises to the occasion with a solid performance as Carol, a Washington, D.C. psychiatrist who's convinced (with the help of costars Daniel Craig and Jeffrey Wright) that a flu-like virus is spreading throughout the population, its alien spores turning victims into soulless "pod people"... only in this case without the pods. The idea is that you'll be fine if you don't fall asleep, and especially if you don't let anyone sneeze or vomit on you. (There's a lot of vomiting; don't say you weren't warned.) With a crashing space shuttle to deliver the alien threat, cute tyke Jackson Bond as Carol's threatened son, and a nod to Kaufman's film with a small role for Veronica Cartwright, "The Invasion" will surely fare better on DVD than it did in theaters. If nothing else, it proves the timeless relevance of Finney's original premise, which continues to inspire a multitude of variations. "--Jeff Shannon"