While Sandra Bullock received an Oscar nomination for Gravity, Toni Collette will not for Stowaway. Spoiler alert: At least George Clooney and Anna Kendrick now have something in common. At times, Stowaway can be visually spectacular. At other times, it appears to be a film made in the 60’s, or at least under COVID restrictions. Most of all, the story suffers as gravity seems to come and go in this sci-fi flick, without explanation or logical reason. It’s confounding that we never learn how the Stowaway got on board. Why did the director decide to allow the audience to only hear one side of the communication between the ship and Earth? That’s darn annoying.
On this planned two year trip to and from Mars, Stowaway is more Apollo 13 than Mars. Even so, Apollo 13 focused more on science, while Stowaway focuses more on the interpersonal relationships. What happens if a spaceship designed for three suddenly holds four? The best of the best on Earth run out of ideas. Who decides what sacrifice should be made? Options on a five month trip to Mars are limited. Done before and done much better, I give Stowaway 3.0 Gavels and it receives a 76% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a 5.5/10 IMDb score.
Commander Barnett notices the engines underperform on takeoff. Nevertheless, Hyperion rejects the call to abort. After docking with the MTS, Barnett finds blood below the panel containing the CO2 scrubbers. Opening it, an unconscious Michael Adams falls out, breaking her arm. Initially unconcerned, the crew later learns that they only have enough oxygen for three. Hyperion recommends the death of Michael. Certainly, there must be a better option?
Toni Collette (Knives Out) is a no-brainer for Commander Barnett, Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) less so as medical researcher, Zoe Levenson. Her bubbly personality as the “in-flight entertainment” doesn’t fit. Consistent with a minimalist COVID-19 operation, the director uses only four total actors.
Biologist David Kim describes his work as “sometimes monotonous.” Sometimes monotonous applies to Stowaway. A late film spacewalk adds a little suspense, but by that time, it’s too little, too late.
“Once the moral dilemma emerges, not a whole lot happens for a too-long stretch, despite solid performances from the cast, as their characters reel under the psychic toll of their situation.” CNN.com
“The film trades unsettling tension for formulaic suspense, suddenly turning the effort into nearly every astronaut crisis movie that’s come before it.” BrianOrmdorf.com
Therein lies the issue. We’ve seen it all before.