Coming to theatres from director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, LD Entertainment and Bleecker Street is a welcoming in of the new year with a thriller in space aboard the I.S.S.
The Americans and Russia are having their difficulties on earth but up on the I.S.S. The American crew with Gordon Barrett (Chris Messina), Christian (John Gallagher Jr.) and newcomer Dr. Kira Foster (Ariana DeBose) each have a job to do. The Russian crew with Nicholai (Costa Ronin), Weronika (Maria Mashikova) and Alexey (Pilou Asbaek) do their job as well.
But in tight quarters, of course they have their moments to share a bit of alcohol, laughs, music and together time. Showing newcomer Kira the ropes, she settles in quickly and discovers a camaraderie among her shipmates. They even show her an amazing view of their world from an observation bubble.
All of it quickly brings chaos when Kira notices bright lights coming from Earth. At first, she believes it is a volcano but the other crew quickly get back inside the craft and seal the hatch. Each side of the crew try to contact their commands but they are getting nothing, no information, no contact, nothing.
That is until Barrett receives a message telling him that the United States and Russia are at war and to take control of I.S.S. Believing that the Russians have received the same message, a feeling of distrust begins to take over each side. The problem with mistrust and being friends is a very thin line – duty vs. friendship come into play.
Until contact can be resumed, orders are orders, by any means necessary.
Messina as Barrett seems to be the figurehead for the group and he maintains a close friendship not only with Nicholai but Weronika as well. Barrett is the level head on the ship from the get go. I enjoy the roles that Messina choses to play because they are so uniquely different. In this role he truly does try to keep a level head when it seems all others are losing theirs. Ronin as Nicholai truly does have a friendship with Barrett as they talk of home and chess. Ronin’s character is the figurehead for the Russian group as he makes it clear what his goals are from the start. I must admit I absolutely loved his character in the Showtime series HOMELAND, unpredictable and sly which is a role he is so deliciously good at playing
DeBose as Kira chose space to explore medical experimentation in space. She is tough, reasonable and realizes as the ‘newbie’ to the group, she knows less about her shipmates which just might be to her advantage. DeBose embraces what is happening and rather than lose it, she takes it step by step. Asbaek as Alexey, Kira’s Russian experimentation counterpart, gets a chance to break away from his GOT role and board a different kind of ship. He is that character in the middle of it all and making decisions gets difficult as well. I have been a fan of Asbaek’s since first seeing him in 2010 in the hit series BORGEN (find and binge immediately!). He is every changing and I’m always surprised at what he accomplishes with a role.
Mashikova as Weronika is a woman who seems to love being in space and knows how to make it more bearable which she immediately shares with Kira. In space she has also found a care for Barrett and cannot comprehend nor agree with what is being asked of them. I like a woman who doesn’t take any guff and stands her ground. Gallagher Jr. as Christian is the odd duck on ship, but then again there is always one in space films. He knows the inner workings of the ship and makes it clear to Kira that they need to stick together. That being said, space and fear make people do crazy things.
Bleecker Street is a New York City film company that has brought outstanding films to the public. Their library includes TRUMBO, DENIAL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BEIRUT, HOTEL MUMBAI, ORDINARY LOVE and THE ROADS NOT TAKEN. For more information on the titles from Bleeker Street please visit www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com.
Director Cowperthwaite has chosen her projects so very well beginning with the 2013 documentary BLACKFISH that stunned audiences world-wide, MEGAN LEAVEY became her first feature film in 2017, and in 2019 she squeezed hearts in the drama OUR FRIEND. Watching her films, I see a director that is very clear about her vision and with I.S.S. she takes risks in every scene and I went for it absolutely.
With a cast of six, let us not forget the seventh character – space itself. It has a big part to play from its view of what people on earth are doing to one another to the reality that outside the ship you are on your own. When I watch films about space, that last one is always on my mind because if you can’t trust those inside to have your back, you might as well unhook and float away!
On the International Space Station, the room inside the I.S.S. is very tight not leaving much room to do things quietly. Space station cameras everywhere and everyone having access to the same places, that is what gives the story its intensity and thrill. It is all out in the open and being secretive won’t work as each of the characters discovers.
I usually don’t have much hope for films in January but I.S.S. has given me a glimmer of hope. It goes straight into survival mode immediately and we hang-on until literally the end credits as the paranoia become so palpable. It becomes a who-do-you-trust game in a place that will call out each character for who they are and what they are willing to do.
There are a few more surprises but I think definetly I.S.S. is a film for everyone to experience for themselves. You don’t need me spoiling it for you so suffice to say I had a grand time from start to finish with this so well done film. Put on your space suits – the ride is going to get a bit rough!
In the end – the war on earth will be decided in space!