Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Invasion

Lowdown: Bacteria from space is turning humanity into a race of passive compliers.
The Invasion is not the first nor the last film to try and make a political statement through the horror genre, or in this particular case a semi-horror genre film. It is, however, probably one of the better budgeted ones and definitely one of the few sporting a genuinely talented cast. I didn’t know whether to expect a lot from this 2007 science fiction meets tame horror film or whether to rely on its lack of box office success as an indicator for its quality.
Taking place in contemporary Washington, The Invasion follows a professional psychologist and divorced single mother, Nicole Kidman. The space shuttle Patriot crashes back into orbit ahead of time (in very much Columbia style), bringing with it to earth pieces of alien bacteria. People around Nicole seem to get infected with this bug, and as they do they seem to be turned into passive zombies whose whole life (if you can call this state life) is devoted to a disconnected affair with the noticeable exceptions for ensuring everyone else catches the bug, too.
On one hand this alien bug promises a comfortable life devoid of conflict. Is that worth the loss of freedom that comes with it? Not according to Kidman. She goes on fighting for herself and her son, aided by a few (mostly Daniel Craig, her would be boyfriend of 007 fame). While the world around her is quickly turning upside down and the police seems to be an enforcing agency for the bug, Kidman has to stay awake and avoid the bug making a zombie of her, too.
There are many problems with The Invasion. For a start, it does not shy from using cheap cinematic tricks. For example, the film starts with a scene taken from its climax and then goes back to telling the story from the beginning. Then there are various short flashbacks and “what if” scenarios thrown all over the place. Essentially, the editing of The Invasion tries too hard to be cool or, under a more pessimistic view, tries to hard to hide some of the film’s deficiencies. Indeed, this may have been required in order to hide the glaring problems with some of the film’s events simply not making sense.
The question then becomes whether The Invasion’s deficiencies are justified in the face of what it is trying to say. Its message is pretty clear, especially given the frequent mentioning that the USA’s invasion to Iraq receives: According to The Invasion, we’ve all been turned into mind numbed zombies by this War on Terror affair. Worse, those that do decide to think for themselves and question the agendas set by the powers that be end up prosecuted by the government’s law and order authorities that are supposed to be there to serve and protect instead; the rest of society encourages this condemnation.
As someone who often finds himself marginalized for having a nonconformist opinion, I definitely feel for The Invasion’s plight. Patriotism has been used way too often to silence others; in this 21st century of ours the time has come for a change. We should keep ourselves awake, on our toes, and fighting the fight.
Worst consistency: After one scene in which we see how useless Kidman is with a gun (she’s so terrified of having fired a shot in anger that she shoots the floor next to her and almost injures herself), the next scene featuring her and a gun has her shooting down some seven zombies or so with precise shots that wouldn’t shame a professional. Police statistics indicate it takes an average of three to four shots fired from a Glock to stop a person; Commando Kidman manages with one shot per zombie.
Worst haircut: What did they do to my James Bond? Turned him into a Laflaf?
Overall: A pretty mediocre film yet I was taken by what it was trying to say. 3 out of 5 stars.

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