We’ve seen a lot of space on the big screen lately, right? “Gravity” and “Interstellar” come to mind, but even more recently we saw “Passengers” and in a matter of months Ridley Scott will release his anticipated sequel “Alien: Covenant”. That’s a fairly crowded slate of outer space survival pics! So will the latest entry into the genre, director Daniel Espinosa’s “Life”, be able to make its mark (and some dollars) among all those other like-minded movies?
To start, the film does boast a pretty likeable cast headlined by Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. They share the screen with Olga Dihobichnaya, Ariyon Bakare and Hiroyuki Sanada, who are equally as important to the story despite the white-centric promotional material that might suggest otherwise.
Together they play the six astronauts aboard the International Space Station, who collect and study a single-celled organism collected from Mars. Nicknamed ‘Calvin’, the specimen is the first undisputable proof of life beyond earth. But as the crew conduct their research on the organism, Calvin begins to multiply and grow, at a rapid rate.
What ensues is a fight-to-survive, alien vs human scenario that, at the end of the day, we’ve all seen before. However writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have delivered a script that is smart enough to convince audiences to go along for the ride, and Espinosa executes it with enough pizzazz to keep us engaged.
If anything sets “Life” apart from other films in the genre, it’s the lack of a ‘main’ character. All six crew members are equally valuable to the ship they inhabit and to the story that’s being told. Though, of course, there has to be a lone survivor (or in this case two) and so too does someone have to be killed off first, and I appreciated the Hitchcock-esque approach to casting that role.