Movie review: ‘Stowaway’

By Christian Hooton

Toni Collette, Daniel Dae Kim and Anna Kendrick are faced with a moral dilemma in 'Stowaway'.

‘Stowaway’ is a Netflix-produced space thriller from writer-director Joe Penna, now available to subscribers.

Three astronauts (Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim and Toni Collette) leave earth on a two-year mission to Mars, to conduct some valuable research in the hope of benefitting humanity. Soon after takeoff, they encounter an unlikely surprise: a stowaway (Shamier Anderson). Initial shock quickly turns to panic, as this discovery causes damage to some key hardware. And can they get to Mars in a spaceship that isn’t designed for an extra person? These issues put the crew on a collision course with a major moral conundrum.

This is not a conventional edge-of-your-seat space romp and plays out into more of a psychological drama. The film tries to focus more on the horrific choices of the crew such as sacrifice and the value of a life, rather than big action sequences. The pace is slow, letting the tension of the situation draw out.

The acting is excellent, with Toni Collette putting in a typical heavyweight performance.; however, the lack of character development is the film’s major oversight. When life and death decisions have to be made, it’s hard to get emotionally attached to characters when the audience doesn’t really know or care about who they are.

The rocket, situations and solutions all feel factual and well-researched. The ship looks functional and feels claustrophobic; certainly not a place in which to spend two years of your life. This adherence to realism is commendable, but the downside is it negates the creepy and cinematic qualities of other such space thrillers like ‘Alien’ or ‘Event Horizon’.

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The spacewalks are impressive and do create that sense of dread that if you fall, you drift for eternity into the vast emptiness of space.

The obvious comparison is to the film ‘Gravity’, but ‘Stowaway’ feels more like the conservative cousin than the identical twin of such a quality drama. That being said, this is engaging, well-produced and well-acted. Well worth a watch and one of Netflix’s better big budget productions.

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