Stowaway (2021)

JOE PENNA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5

/USA, 2021. , , , , , , , , . Screenplay by Joe Penna, . Cinematography by . Produced by , , , , , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by Ryan Morrison.

The success of Gravity means a few years of films about outer space that avoid aliens or laser gun battles and focus on claustrophobic tech issues that, as The Midnight Sky, Ad Astra and this remarkably dull film display, have so far not come anywhere close to recreating Alfonso Cuaron’s impressive command of tension and incident. A ship on its way to Mars as an early colonization effort is inhabited solely by its captain, , doctor and scientist , but their perfect balance is upset when Collette discovers a fourth person on board. Found unconscious and caught up in cords behind a ceiling panel, is an accidental import who now presents a risk to them all: there isn’t enough resources on board to support four people, they were already straining the limit at three, and the rest have to make the hard decision to sacrifice him for the greater good. Kendrick is adamant that so harsh a solution is unnecessary and they can figure out a way to all survive, but each attempt to improve the situation only makes things worse and, as time passes and they get further away from their home planet, more danger comes their way. Fascinating concept, except that director Joe Penna is fully asleep at the wheel and it’s likely because his script, co-written by Ryan Morrison, is a snooze, mistakenly thinking that a tricky situation will automatically bring with it the tension necessary to make the experience enjoyable. The characters don’t engage in a particularly interesting battle of wills, perhaps questioning whether Anderson is a saboteur in disguise could raise the pulse just a little bit and distract us from the fact that Colette spends the whole movie crying. Even the detailed production design, which creates a believable spaceship environment and lights it beautifully, is a bland and lifeless environment, nothing comes close to the sense of awe that a convincing trip to the stars should inspire (hell, even Mission To Mars managed to do that).

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