Review: Life (Movie 2017)

I missed this at the cinema and it is a bit of a visual treat. Story and characters contain no surprises or depth but it does what it does efficiently.

It is the very near future and a bunch of scientists are floating about on the International Space Station. Their specific mission is to intercept a returning automated spacecraft from Mars, which is carrying soil samples with clear evidence of life. What is not immediately explained is that the convoluted exercise of getting the spacecraft to the space station is actually a biohazard precaution. Nobody knows what the microscopic life remnants might be and hence they will be examined well away from the rest of humanity.

As you might readily guess from the rating and scary trailer, things go bad very quickly and the Martian critter is less than friendly.

The film is easily summed up as a mix of Gravity and Alien. The ISS is setting and the micro-gravity is portrayed convincingly and the scary alien is both sufficiently scary and not stupidly implausible. The characters naturally have to make a number of mistakes for the situation to escalate but nobody is either stupid or malicious.

The posters emphasise Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds but the film rests on a wider ensemble cast. Ariyon Bakare as the mission’s biologist in particular puts in a good performance. Fans of Reynolds may be disappointed by his relatively minor role.

Good, not amazing. Lots of scares but no surprises.