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Stowaway - Movie Review

Stowaway)

Outer space is dangerous. Never has that been more evident than in Joe Penna’s outer space survival flick Stowaway, which hits Netflix on April 22. In his sophomore feature effort, the Arctic filmmaker, once again, teams up with co-writer Ryan Morrison to put an audience on the edge of their seats with a gripping story of surviving in the harshest environments known to man. But this time Penna ups the emotional ante by injecting a large dose of morale conflict into the equation.

"more than enough nail-biting tension to satisfy the action junkies and thrill seekers while also giving us a pretty darn accurate depiction of the mental and physical toll the dangers of space travel can have on the human body"


 

The result is a thought-provoking space science fiction thriller that not only looks and feels real (actual biologists and engineers were consulted), but one that also effectively operates in the high stakes realm of complicated human emotions and what-would-you-do danger.

The intrigue begins with the film’s high-concept premise hinted at by its title. A two-year mission to Mars is suddenly complicated when its three crew members discover that a fourth has inadvertently shown up aboard the ship.

We don’t know how he got there, but Commander Marina (Toni Collette), Medical Specialist Zoe (Anna Kendrick), and biologist David (Daniel Dae Kim) discover a bleeding man they later learn is named Michael (Shamier Anderson) entangled in one of the ship’s overhead compartments. Things are even further complicated when, while extracting the stranger from his predicament, the ship’s carbon dioxide scrubber is damaged, leaving the ship with only enough oxygen to support three crew members for their five month-long journey to the red planet.

The crew is left to face an impossible dilemma: one of the crew members must be eliminated or everyone will die before they reach Mars.Stowaway)

As he displayed with his debut feature Arctic, Penna knows isolation, claustrophobic environs, and how to get the most from a limited cast. The ship is well designed (thanks to Marco Bittner Rosser’s heavily-researched production design) with enough nooks and crannies to swallow us in its cramped spaces, and the stellar cast does a great job of convincing us of their desperate plight. Though a bit difficult to believe that a ground crew member could accidentally be left behind aboard a rocket launching to Mars – and the how is never really explained, the human toll and crew member anguish is convincing enough that we never feel the need to ask too many questions.

A third act action piece involving a high risk space walk to retrieve extra oxygen from a remote part of the ship, provides more than enough nail-biting tension to satisfy the action junkies and thrill seekers while also giving us a pretty darn accurate depiction of the mental and physical toll the dangers of space travel can have on the human body.

What could have been another hokey deep space thriller (there have been a lot of those lately), instead turns out to be a well-acted, brilliantly-executed exercise in human survival. While there are plenty of mechanical things that can go wrong in space flight, Penna and company choose to focus on the danger and threats that plague the human condition. And Stowaway is a better film because of it.

Stowaway is now playing on Netflix.

3/5 stars


Film Details

Stowaway

MPAA Rating: TV-MA.
Runtime:
116 mins
Director
: Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison
Writer:
Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison
Cast:
Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson
Genre
: Sci-fi | Thriller
Tagline:

Memorable Movie Quote: "What are we gonna do, ask him to walk out of the airlock?"
Distributor:
Netflix
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 22, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: The crew of a spaceship headed to Mars discovers an accidental stowaway shortly after takeoff. Too far from Earth to turn back and with resources dwindling, the ship's medical researcher emerges as the only dissenting voice against the group that has already decided in favor of a grim outcome.

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Stowaway

 

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