It seems like everyone’s going to space these days; the exploits of Branson and Musk attempting to blast us normal folk into the cosmos has brought a renewed interest in the thinking man’s sci-fi film. Stowaway is a little bit Martian (there’s a lot of science-y slang and scenes of gratuitous botany) but with added ethics: when the titular stowaway (Shamier Anderson) is found onboard a two-year mission to Mars, the ship’s limited oxygen supply forces the crew (Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette and Daniel Dae Kim) to consider sacrificing him for survival. It’s scored like a thriller, shot like a sci-fi (a solar storm sequence is particularly pretty) and utilises a pace so measured and considered it would make even Kubrick say “this is quite slow”.

In fact, it’s at its strongest when it doesn’t try to be a sci-fi film at all. The tensest moments come from the crew butting heads in such a claustrophobic environment and employing underhand tactics to ensure survival (strong performances all round, particularly Toni Collette’s commander), and plays out more like something written for the stage than a Netflix science fiction thriller. But instead of continuing this tale of morality, the film veers into a finale that feels like an outtake from Gravity and a conclusion that tries to be esoteric but is largely frustrating, less 2001 and more ‘Space Oddity’. It’s a real shame to limp out with rushed action and a chin-stroking ending when the film was previously so patient.

Stowaway is far from a failure to launch but doesn’t quite stick the landing, changing course for its conclusion and losing the tension it established so well in its earlier moments. Nevertheless, a talented cast wrestling with some serious ethical dilemmas in space makes for an exciting, albeit heavy, watch.



CAST: Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson


WRITERS: Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison 

SYNOPSIS: A stowaway on a mission to Mars sets off a series of unintended consequences.