Written and directed by Joe Penna, co-written by Ryan Morrison, a three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board. Starring: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette.
This may be the type of film that people could easily dismiss and while some may not get everything they want to out of it, the answer to the most pertinent question of ‘is it worth watching?’ is yes. Penna and Morrison’s writing has a solid premise that’s simple to follow but nonetheless gripping. There are certainly elements in regard to both its characters and the progression of its story that could have been developed or explored further but what they’ve created is something genuinely entertaining. There is a certain expectation with films delving into space exploration for them to try to come across as incredibly intelligent which to a degree causes them to feel convoluted, whereas this film keeps things more contained and concise. It leans the dial back to being about entertaining its audience rather than keeping them guessing or trying to dive into a deep conversation about the nature of humans and selfish vs selfless.
Penna’s direction is about what you’d expect from this sort of project, it brings in a certain level of flash and embraces the special effects but only to a necessary degree, otherwise keeping things relatively grounded. The choice to have it in a realm where they can have artificial gravity feels probably more like a budgetary and time constraint informed decision but at the same time, not having everyone constantly floating does remove a level of distraction and help it dive into the drama more. The sets are pristine and detailed, and its use of colour really opens up the very claustrophobic setting so it never feels overly closed in, instead feeling sharp and clean.
Even if the film had nothing else going for it, this cast would make up for that, the blend of Kendrick, Collette, Dae Kim and Anderson is wonderful. They all work so well together that they’re effortless to watch, their friendships and dynamics feel utterly convincing and immediately perceptible. Together they create a very strong charisma to the film, the situation is dire but the atmosphere they create feels very natural and flowing. It’s that quality which makes the film much more captivating, you need to care about the fate of these characters to at all invest in this story and they achieve that easily. Each of them brings different levels and forms of emotion, each performance is completely different and each character feels extremely individual. It plays very much to their strengths in that they’re all typically great at both comedy and drama, so they bring both a lightness and a serious side to these characters.
Stowaway deserves a chance, it doesn’t deserve to be immediately tossed aside, it may not delve as deep or explore as far as it could but it’s fun, entertaining and touching. It’s fantastic to have a range of serious, dark or emotionally charged films but it’s important not to forget that we also need those that can be memorable purely for their enjoyment and that’s what this film gives you. It’s brilliantly casted, these actors are faultless and work together perfectly. It’s an ideal choice for a weekend watch that you can both relax to and be enthralled by.