First Hit: This film tried to be a horror thriller in the science fiction genre, but ended up being lifeless.
The film starts a little confusingly but with some interest. For some reason there wasn’t enough clear back fill as to how a space probe left Mars, heading for Earth and a space station had to catch it or…. Once I got past this unsolved puzzle, watching the team’s pilot Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) move a space arm to catch this thing in space was cool. However, any probe coming from Mars would be traveling much faster than it shows here, another puzzle to solve.
After bringing the soil samples into a sealed (not really because there were vents) bio-testing chamber, British biologist Hugh Derry (Arilyon Bakare) starts fiddling with the samples and finds a living one cell protoplasmic entity. Adjusting the mixture of oxygen and stuff, it grows. As Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), Quarantine Officer states; “…all muscle, all brain, and all eye.” It is named “Calvin” by some school children. I liked the reference in some ways because “Calvin and Hobbs” was one of my favorite comic strips and the character Calvin was a handful.
Hugh is like a child with this discovery and Rory states “there’s going to be a huge custody battle over this”, mostly because the space station has multi-national people working on board and it is the “International Space Station” (ISS).
To give some character to the team, Sho’s (Hiroyuki Sanada) wife gives birth while he watches it on a personal video device. Commander Katerina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya) is Russian and is ultimately responsible for the safety of the crew. Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the medical officer and has been in space longer than anyone 400+ days. He likes it there because being on the ISS it is a controllable environment for him.
So what happens? Calvin gets loose and attacks people because humans are filled with the type of liquid nutrients it needs to survive. As Hugh states at one point, it is just trying to survive. All havoc breaks loose, Earth loses communication contact with ISS and decides to send a Soyuz capsule up to push the ISS into deep space forever, killing everyone and everything on the ship. However, when this plan fails, the last two living humans make a decision to try to save Earth from Calvin.
Part of the problem, is that Calvin wasn’t interesting, I didn’t care about the characters, and it seemed like a fight in futility from the get go. Then there were the logistics issues that I pointed out above.
Reynolds had little screen time and maybe the film would have done better with his presence extended. Bakare was OK, but a bit too inquisitive in trying to make Calvin respond to stimuli, which wasn't scientifically stringent enough if this were real. Ferguson was bland and didn’t really add much to the film. Dihovichnaya was OK, but didn’t seem to be controlling her team much, which caused part of the problem. Gyllenhaal was good and one of the better parts of the film because you can tell he pours himself into each part. Sanada was OK and didn’t add much to the overall picture. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were both probably aiming for an “Alien” type film but ended up alienating this audience – some actually walked out during my viewing. Daniel Espinosa had some great photography, and visual effects, but the weak script and story deflated the overall presentation.
Overall: This film will not get reviewed well and just didn’t work