Possible spoilers ahead!
Aboard the International Space Station, crew members Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), Rory ‘Roy’ Adams (Ryan Reynolds), system engineer Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada), biologist Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare), and mission commander Katerina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya), prepare to recover a returning Mars lander.
After successfully bringing the capsule into the ISS, the crew discover that they are now in possession of an organism that provides the first proof of life on another planet. From here on in, the ISS team maintain a strict safety protocol, in case should the Martian organism proves to be dangerous or deadly to humans.
As you can imagine, the discovery is big news down on earth, and the Martian organism is named “Calvin” in honor of an elementary school. At first, Calvin seems to be hibernating, but it soon begins to rapidly evolve in the ISS lab. Everything is going well, until one day when, following an accident in the lab, “Calvin” suddenly turns hostile and becomes an immediate danger to the crew.
As the astronauts aboard struggle to contain this new threat, there’s one thing they all agree on: regardless of what happens to them or the ISS, this creature must not make it to earth.
“Life” takes the familiar concept of people being trapped in a small space with an alien life form. That’s a set up that’s been done dozens of times, but creative filmmakers can find ways to update the status quo. This movie doesn’t do anything new, and because of that, the plot is highly predictable.
Maybe I watch too many movies, so I know what to look for. But only a few minutes in, I already knew how the movie would end. A few minutes later, I even worked out the sequence of events that would lead up to such an ending. This took away any tension the film may have had, and at some points, it even became funny.
I thought this movie had a ton of problems, but none of them were the fault of the cast. The three leads, Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson do what they can, but they and the rest of the cast are saddled with characters that are never developed during the film.
The only memorably character is played by Ryan Reynolds, but he’s basically playing himself. Gyllenhaal’s character never evolves beyond a reference to him preferring life in space to Earth. Ferguson is solid as the station’s disciplined and by-the-book Miranda, but all I know about her is that she works for the CDC.
The main problem with “Life” is the script. Beside the premise, the screenplay is sloppy, rushed in places, and without depth. There were points during the movie in which I felt like I was watching the third act of a movie. What I don’t know if there were cuts made during editing or not, but it sure felt like it.
With a great cast, a cool premise, I had very high hopes for “Life.” But sadly, this movie fell short of every expectation I had. “Life” is a sci-fi horror/thriller that gives nothing to its cast, and plotwide never fully realizes its potential.
“Life” final score: D