Be careful what you search for.
From the off, Swedish-born director Daniel Espinosa (Easy Money, Safe House) and his director of photography, Seamus McGarvey, impress us with their film’s just-around-the-corner realism. We feel we’re right alongside the six-member crew of the International Space Station as they hustle and bustle about the craft, striving to catch a spinning capsule that is hurtling towards them.
Crucially, the damaged probe contains soil samples from the surface of Mars. The multinational team – which includes Rebecca Ferguson’s level headed scientist Miranda North, Jake Gyllenhaal’s PTSD-suffering doctor David Jordan and Ryan Reynolds’ down-to-earth engineer Rory Adams – is hoping to find signs of extraterrestrial life.
And wouldn’t you know it, on-board biologist Hugh Derry (Arlyon Bakare) does indeed discover in the sample a microscopic single-cell organism, soon dubbed ‘Calvin’ by the crew. But before we can gasp, ‘Be careful what you wish for,’ the creature has started growing and developing in alarming ways.
Espinosa quickly has us on tenterhooks. We see what the creature does to a poor lab mouse – and brace ourselves for the grisly fate that surely lies in store for the crew. As the film hurtles towards its chilling climax, the astronauts take the evasive measures typical of the genre. Yet even though we’ve seen daring stuff involving airlocks and escape pods umpteen times before, it’s still exciting here. Sure, the plot may not withstand calm reflection after the credits roll, but while the film is running Espinosa keeps our nerves far too jangled to care.
Certificate 15. Runtime 104 mins. Director Daniel Espinosa
Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.