This time around the horror is all brought about by a virus that comes from outer space, a virus that takes hold and changes people when they fall asleep. The good news is that the virus is only spread through bodily fluids but the bad news is that those already infected do whatever it takes to spread their fluids as far and wide as possible (that sounds far worse than it actually is but at least you're now prepared for one or two gross moments). Nicole Kidman plays a psychiatrist named Carol Bennell who starts to get suspicious when she sees more and more strange behaviour and starts hearing about people not acting like their usual selves. As the epidemic becomes more obvious and more dangerous she sets out to find her young son, Oliver (Jackson Bond), who is spending some time with his father (Jeremy Northam). Thinking of a cure would be great but her son is her number one priority and Daniel Craig plays Ben Driscoll, the man who cares about Carol enough to help her even as society starts to break down around them and martial law takes effect.
Written by David Kajganic and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the sad fact is that a lot more names were thrown in the mix at one point or another to "save" this movie when the studio wasn't happy with the result. That's a real shame because the general updating of the premise is very well done and I think that the others involved in changing the final product make it difficult for a reviewer to allocate praise and/or criticism.
For the sake of argument, let me just judge the movie based solely on the fact that David Kajganic wrote the script and Oliver Hirschbiegel directed the thing. Let's just forget about the interference of others because I have no specific details about what the added or took away from the finished film. Well, Kajganic provides a very good script that makes the premise more believable than ever while still keeping everything rooted in the more unsettling details of the original tale. The slow but inevitable development of events as more and more people are taken over is executed perfectly. Hirschbiegel directs capably enough, with a few flashy bits of editing here and there but his focus always staying on the ideas raised by the invasion and the continual battle that rages between emotion and intellect.
The cast are also very good. This may not be Kidman at her very best but she's still a great female lead and easy to root for. Daniel Craig is as likeable as ever, Jeremy Northam is excellent (as ever), Jeffrey Wright gets to relay the scientific mumbo jumbo, Veronica Cartwright is very good in her small role as a woman convinced that her husband has changed and young Jackson Bond is a talented young man.
Admittedly, this isn't as good as the past adaptations of the story but it IS a good film and it's nice to see that there's still a way to adapt it for modern audiences without everything feeling tired and overdone. I really enjoyed watching this and I know that I'm going to stay in the minority with this opinion but I'd urge other fans of intelligent sci-fi horror to at least check it out on the small screen because it's most certainly not deserving of the bad reputation it has.