½*/**** Image A Sound A Extras C+
starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jeffrey Wright
screenplay by David Kajganich
directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. Jack Finney's 1955 novel The Body Snatchers has proven itself to be of durable stock. Over the course of its first three official adaptations, it's managed to tap the cultural vein--to distil the zeitgeist--in its tale of soulless pod-people replacing loved ones and figures of authority. Something about this specific fear has been an Aeolian harp, essaying the Red Menace of the Fifties (Don Siegel's original Invasion of the Body Snatchers), the new-age cultism and air of paranoia of the Seventies (Philip Kaufman's 1978 masterpiece), the modern military-industrial complex (Abel Ferrara's underestimated 1993 revamp), and now the over-medicated upper-middle classes in German director Oliver Hirschbiegel's The Invasion. If it weren't for the inherent elasticity of the source material, in truth, there wouldn't be anything to recommend the new picture, what with its ridiculous screenplay (by first-timer David Kajganich), deadening proselytizing, and mawkish performances from an assembled cast of luminaries. The Invasion is hopelessly fucked-up in the only way you can fuck this story up: by having a bunch of halfwits impose themselves on it in the vain belief they can reinvent the wheel. It isn't the worst film of the year so far, just by far the most disappointing, and while I really admire Nicole Kidman in some of her independent film choices, her track record of picking real, bona fide stinkers in the mainstream continues with this, her widely-publicized entrée into the $17M/picture club. The irony being--and letting Kidman off the hook a little--that a well-publicized 17-day reshoot with none other than The Wachowski Brothers and their protégé James McTeigue at the rudder transformed what was reputedly a poor-testing, "documentary-like," low-key political thriller into this bullshit.