Review: Apple TV+'s new sci-fi series 'Invasion' could be much better

The show fails to keep viewers on the edge of their seats

With a reported budget of $200 million, it’s no surprise that Apple TV+’s Invasion looks sleek and impressive. However, its a shame the series doesn’t do more with its colossal funds, especially with a premise so intriguing.

Created and written by David Weil and Simon Kinberg (who wrote Mr & Mrs Smith, Sherlock Holmes and X-Men: Days of Future Past), the 10-episode-long first season depicts an alien invasion of Earth. Instead of focusing on one character, it's shown from the perspectives of various people on different continents across the globe.

These include a sheriff on the brink of retirement (Sam Neill), a homesick American soldier in Afghanistan (Shamier Anderson), a Syrian couple on the brink of divorce (Golshifteh Farahani and Firas Nassar), a bullied British boy (Billy Barratt) and a Japanese aerospace technician (Shioli Kutsuna) hiding a love affair with an astronaut.

As a result, the show elegantly glides from picturesque scenes in Yemen to sequences in Tokyo, London, New York, Oklahoma and Afghanistan. Over the course of Invasion’s first three episodes, director Jakob Verbruggen does an impressive job of merging all of these storylines together, all while creating a general sense of foreboding. There are even a couple of moments that are genuinely shocking, too.

Where Invasion is really let down, though, is in the writing. It doesn’t take long to realise that Kinberg and Weil are going for the slow-burn approach. The problem is, they’re being too patient. The show establishes that the world is being invaded by aliens, and then focuses on character conflicts and tropes that we’ve seen before in hundreds of other series. The real-life issues that are plaguing the ensemble fail to resonate against the backdrop of the worldwide chaos. Invasion spends too much time establishing characters and backstories, and putting pieces into position for future episodes.

In each of the opening trio of episodes, it takes about 45 minutes for something dynamic and exciting to occur. Yet again Verbruggen oversees these action scenes well. Especially in the finale of the second episode, which culminates in our first real look at the alien ships that have attacked Earth.

Thankfully for Invasion, the sublime special effects and the ingenious design of the space foe’s craft combine to make sure that the episode concludes on a high. So much so, that you expect the third episode to be the one where the show really explodes into life. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead it follows the same path as its predecessors, merely plodding along with teasers that spectacle and revelations are around the corner, while failing to be exciting.

After three hour-long episodes, Invasion should have its viewers firmly on the edge of their seats, from which they should be fervently speculating about what the aliens want and what’s going to happen to the characters. But the show spends so much time not answering those questions that ultimately, it ends up feeling dull.

There’s every chance Invasion will eventually erupt into excitement further down the line. But it hasn't gotten there yet.

The first three episodes of Invasion will premiere on Apple TV+ on Friday, with the remaining seven following weekly

Updated: October 22nd 2021, 4:52 AM