Let’s make a choice.
Stowaway is a new Netflix film. While that previous statement might make you roll your eyes, I do want to ask you all to hang tight for a few. That’s right, we’ve got another good Netflix film and not visual pain. The sacrifices must have been fruitful this year.
We follow a group of astronauts on their way to Mars to begin working on preparing a colony. Medical doctor Zoe (Anna Kendrick) serves as our entry point and her excitement in the process drives her character. David (Daniel Dae Kim) is responsible for the bio-chemical engineering of algae on Mars and performs experiments on microgreens during the trip. Captain Marina (Toni Collette) serves as the leader.
These three characters are all well-written and well-acted. The film simply achieves strong human moments throughout. Finally, we have a film that adheres to the notion that any company sending folks into space is going to rigorously psychologically test them. We have none of the stupid rivalries or anything here. I love that we showcase them as friendly, professional, and clear headed even in the worst situations.
What’s the worst situation? Well, we end up with a stowaway (you know, the title). Michael (Shamier Anderson), an engineer who was prepping the ship is knocked out and accidentally taken along for the trip.
The crew welcomes Michael, and we have a further showcase of the professionalism needed in space. Marina is at first concerned he may be a problem, but the film never lets this predictable line take over the movie. Michael is an accidental stowaway and an engineer. He wants to work, so they let him.
Everything seems to be going well, but when Michael was injured, he also damaged the life support system. Now, the crew has a terrible choice: there is only enough oxygen for three people. Hyperion, the company that built the ship, wants them to get rid of Michael, but the crew refuses and wants to find a way to save him.
The main driver of the film is the human elements of morality and choice. These people are pushed into impossible decisions and must scramble to find any way to fix things. The slow-burn of the film makes us stay with the inevitable longer than lesser films would have. We are never given a break from the smoldering tension of what is coming.
A+ acting from everyone involved helps make this one of the better space films I’ve seen in a long time. We have a tiny cast and a tiny set, but each character becomes a fully realized character. I must mention that Toni Collette once again proves she is a badass actress and one of the best in the business. However, it is Anna Kendrick who impressed me the most. She presents Zoe as someone who is friendly, fun, and driven. This is the most dramatic role I’ve seen Kendrick in, and she knocked it out of the park. The whole cast deserves high praise. Daniel Dae Kim is one of those actors who never seems to get the screen time he deserves. I had not encountered Shamier Anderson before, but damn he does a great job.
There are some logical issues in the narrative. I had to wonder if they seriously don’t bring any replacement parts along on these sorts of missions… However, the human elements of the film crush any logical issue. These are great characters that you’ll enjoy puzzling through tough questions with.
With so many bad movies out this year already, Stowaway is a breath of fresh air. The story is simple, but it is told exceptionally well. Give this one a watch.
One of the better films of the year so far.