Swirling through space this week from director Daniel Espinosa and Columbia Pictures is a film that teaches us to leave well enough alone and enjoy “Life.”
On a space station high above Earth are six astronauts waiting for a special delivery to prove there is life on Mars. Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya), Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare), Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada) and David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) are led by Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson).
When Hugh begins experiments on the samples, there is almost an immediate result as life grows. Sharing the news with the world, a local school wins the honor of naming the single-cell organism Calvin.
As quickly as Calvin grows, they crew panics when it becomes clear that something is wrong with the life form. Reviving it is the beginning of what becomes a race for survival between the humans on board and the life form that is growing and becoming smarter.
They must keep the creature from getting to Earth at all costs — even if the cost is their lives!
Gyllenhaal as David is a man clearly meant to live in space. Not in a hurry to return to Earth, he keeps his head when everything begins to go wrong. Gyllenhaal has this unique ability to look calm even when his character is anything but. I enjoyed ever moment of his performance, but then again, I have been pretty thrilled with his work these past years.
Reynolds as Rory brings a sense of sarcasm and quick lines to this character. Of course it isn’t a stretch for Reynolds to do that, as he has made a fantastic career out of doing just that. But when it’s time to be intense, he can bring it with a fierceness that you won’t soon forget.
Sanada as Sho is on board while his wife is waiting to have their child. He cares about every member of the crew and yet wonders if he will ever see home again. I am actually pretty thrilled that Sanada is in the film, he is an actor that deserves a lot of attention.
Bakare as Hugh is totally infatuated with Calvin, but it is his job to be. Finding life in the space station a freeing experience, he becomes a little obsessed with the creature. Dihovichnaya as Ekaterina is smart and fast when it comes to understanding how the creature begins to think.
Ferguson as Miranda is the woman-in-charge and that means there are decisions to be made. Of course at the same time righteous fear takes over the space stations and there are moments where I question what the heck she is thinking but that’s what brings the mystery.
Other cast include Elizabeth Vargas as “20/20” Anchor, Camiel Warren-Taylor as Dominique and Naoko Mori as Kazumi.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Life” four tubs of popcorn out of five. Of course the film has bits that remind me of other space-alien films, and there are parts that are fairly predictable. That being said, none of that deterred me from having a great time.
There are jumps, jaw drops, moments of “Awwwwwww, damn,” tension and it all happens in a small space — relatively speaking. The film is very in-your-face, but that makes sense since there isn’t anything else to distract from the story and nothing for the actors to hide behind. Instead it’s straight on performance and fans of this genre of film are going to have a great time.
Director Espinosa has actually made several films that I enjoy with “Easy Money” in 2010 and Tom Hardy in “Child 44” in 2015. He has worked with Reynolds before along with Denzel Washington in the 2012 film “Safe House.” So he is batting 4-4 with me!
In the end — be careful what you search for!