By Lucas Battista

(2024) Streaming on Prime, starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, John Gallagher Jr., Masha Mashkova, Costa Ronin, and Pilou Asbæk.

Imagine if you will, a cross between “Gravity” (2013) and “Apollo 18” (2011) (for anyone on Earth or any other heavenly body that might still remember that stupid movie) that capitalizes on the glove clinching terror of space’s bottomless heights, and really any of the dangers posed by modern space travel, waffled into a set of American and Russian astronauts meant to be pitted against each other on the International Space Station in an air of modern cold-war paranoia as our blue marble is consumed in nuclear hellfire below their feet.

It really makes for a fantastic premise of a movie, and perhaps it would’ve turned out well if any of what I said in the prior sentence actually happened in it. No, there was barely any space-walking or death-defying extravehicular activity, the characters were shallow and planar, the actual god-damned setting the movie is in, SPACE, barely is made use of at all. Hell, as far as I’m concerned it could’ve been set on a cruise ship with Russian and American passengers and it would’ve made for pretty much the same exact movie.

There’s really very little tension, since the whole gimmick (besides from being on the I.S.S.) is that, since the world is now over, our astronauts and cosmonauts have been tasked with killing each other and seizing the I.S.S. at the behest of their respective nations, in order to seize some kind of experimental MacGuffin that can heal radiation burns, which conveniently is present on the I.S.S., and only some of the crew are aware of its existence, just as the world’s superpowers started hurling ICBMs at each other. What a coincidence! Plus, there is really very little suspense.

Besides all the other rich ideas which string together this movie’s premise, what really could’ve carried it is the heavy tension between six people locked in a pressurized can as they lose their home. The movie half consists of all fighting and action, which as I said, should’ve been (but wasn’t) heightened by them being in space, and there’s not much real suspense or subterfuge. What could’ve happened after they received their “missions,” is to have them all disregard their orders and run with the whole we’re just humans bit, going about their lives in mundanity until the paranoia begins to seep in to boil over into climax. Paranoia is what’s supposed to make the movie, and what really could’ve made it twice as caustic would be for their paranoia to be entirely unfounded.

I hate to say it, but I think I got more of a kick out of the evil hordes of spider moon rocks in “Apollo 18,” at least that was novel.

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