While the premise of this sci-fi thriller feels like yet another of Stephenie Meyer's two-boys-one-girl fantasies, a superior writer-director and cast make this is a stronger film than Twilight. The plot may be rather contrived, but the actors bring out some sharp intelligence in the script to make it surprisingly involving.
It's set in a future time after aliens have snatched the bodies of 90 percent of humanity, eliminating hunger, crime and the environmental crisis. But secret pockets of rebels have avoided being possessed by these white mini-jellyfish beings, and are seeking ways to fight back. So when the alien being Wanderer is implanted in the resistance leader Melanie (Ronan), the head Seeker (Kruger) hopes to infiltrate her memories and find out where they're hiding. But Melanie is stronger than anyone thinks, managing to remain conscious alongside Wanderer, winning her to the rebel cause. She heads to the human's secret desert hideout, where Uncle Jeb (Hurt) renames her Wanda and accepts her into the fold. But some humans aren't so sure, and the Seeker is hot on her trail.
It's deep in this maze of rather too-sophisticated caves that the crinkled romance develops, as Melanie is reunited with her boyfriend Jared (Irons), but doesn't want him kissing her when Wanda is in control of her body. Then Wanda falls for Ian (Abel), and their kissing makes Melanie even more furious. Yes, like Twilight, this film seems to think that kissing is the ultimate expression of human connection, giving this film a quirky four-sided love triangle at its centre. Meanwhile, the more thriller-like plotline builds as the Seeker gets ever closer. All of this is played out very seriously, with almost no offhanded humour or humanity, but the emotions are intriguingly resonant.
This is largely due to Ronan and Hurt, who invest much more than we expect into their roles. Kruger is great at being relentless, while Irons and Abel fill the interchangeable hunk roles adeptly, but we never really worry about them much because bigger things are at stake. Writer-director Niccol keeps the film moody and smart, creating the future with cool imagery and shiny surfaces rather than fussy digital effects. Every sequence is beautifully shot to make the most of the epic landscapes and swoony kissing conundrum. And while we begin to doubt that the filmmakers will be brave enough to end the film on a complex note, we remain fairly assured that some clever twist will resolve things in a satisfying way.
Run time: 125 mins
In Theaters: Friday 29th March 2013
Box Office USA: $26.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $63.3M
Distributed by: Open Road Films
Production compaines: Silver Reel, Chockstone Pictures, Nick Wechsler Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 8%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 108
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Andrew Niccol
Screenwriter: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder / Wanda, Diane Kruger as The Seeker / Lacey, Jake Abel as Ian O'Shea, William Hurt as Jeb Stryder, Frances Fisher as Maggie Stryder, Max Irons as Jared Howe, Chandler Canterbury as Jamie Stryder, Boyd Holbrook as Kyle O'Shea, Stephen Rider as Seeker Reed, Emily Browning as Wanda, Rachel Roberts as Soul Fleur, Shyaam Karra as Soul Anshu, Brent Wendell Williams as Soul Winters, Jhil McEntyre as Soul Lake, Jalen Coleman as Soul Nafisa, Jaylen Moore as Seeker Song, Stephen Conroy as Seeker Sands, Michael L. Parker as Seeker Wolfe, Phil Austin as Seeker Waverley, Marcus Lyle Brown as Healer Fords, J.D. Evermore as Trevor Stryder, John Wilmot as Soul Raines, Evan Cleaver as Seeker Pavo, Mustafa Harris as Brandt, Scott Lawrence as Doc, Shawn Carter Peterson as Wes, Raeden Greer as Lily, Tatanka Means as Seeker Hawke, Erika Schultz as Seeker Zephyr, David House as Seeker Summers, Ruby Lou Smith as Soul Pearle, Andrea Frankle as Healer Skye, Yohance Myles as Seeker Nova, Alex Russell as Seeker Burns, Bokeem Woodbine as Nate
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