Stowaway (2021) Review

Certificate: 12

Director: Joe Penna

Screenwriter: Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette, Daniel Dae Kim

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 116 Minutes

Language: English


Reviewed by: Pearl

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A three-man crew sets off on a two year mission to mars, and after a few slight hiccups upon launch, everything seems to be going well.  Until they discover an injured man, hidden in the life support system of their ship.  When he is discovered, the life support system is critically damaged and the crew have to find a way to supplement their oxygen, before they fun out of air, and have to make some really hard choices.

There have been a lot of great, slower paced sci-fi films released in the last few years.  I’m talking things like ‘The Martian’, ‘Moon’ and ‘Arrival.’  No space battles and laser swords to be seen, just good storytelling and well written, complex characters.  Sadly though, as well as a lack of battles and swords, this film also lacked the compelling story and character details that made those other films so interesting.

The premise was really interesting and could have led to interesting discussions around survival instinct and death and human nature, but we don’t really get any of that.  We do get to see a few really tense attempts to save the crew, and the ending sequences with Anna Kendrick’s character were quite impactful and emotional, but as we have extraordinarily little understanding or knowledge about our characters, or what their mission is for, why they are going to Mars or any background info on anyone at all really, it lacks the emotional impact that I think the filmmakers were going for.

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The film also suffers from really slow pacing.  Basically, nothing happens for a lot of the film, and it isn’t until the last half an hour or so that the stakes are really raised at all.  We know how dire things are by about halfway, but everyone seems to be happy to remain pretty calm about things for the most part.  So, the audience never really see or experience a sense of urgency.

It was nice to see Anna Kendrick play a more dramatic role, as I am getting tired of her being typecast as the quirky, awkward girl in all those other movies she’s done.  In fact the whole cast here is very strong, they just aren’t given a lot to work with.  There are a few well-acted, emotional scenes, and Toni Collette does a wonderful job as the commander of the ship, her best scenes being when she is in contact with ground control, and she can let her professional demeanour slip a little bit.  Its just a shame we learn nest to nothing about any of the characters in this story.

Everything about this was just very average, a shame because it had the potential to be so much more.

‘Stowaway’ is streaming on Netflix now.

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