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  • 3 out of 5

LIFE - a spoiler-free review


Let's be clear from the outset, there is nothing new in this film. You sit there watching it and you think: "oh they are going to do that thing" and then they do that thing. It's the same for the plot-twist. It's nothing we've not seen in similar science fiction-horror movies over the years.

Having said that. I loved it.

So let's discuss the plot. No spoilers here.

The International Space Station recovers a probe sent to Mars and designed to take soil samples and return them to Earth. Predictably they find something and we are then in a cross between The Thing From Another World, Alien and Gravity. It's a colour by numbers plot and when they say of the single-cell creature "let's test it by zapping it with an electrical charge" you think to your self "I wouldn't do that" but they do. Every plot development is like that. "I wouldn't walk off into those dark woods on my own" and what do they do? Yep you guessed it.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa, whose previous films included Safe House with Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington - a fast-paced, well-received thriller from 2012 and Child 44, a Stalin-era thriller with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Noomi Rapace from 2015 - Life, although set in space, has the pace and energy of his previous works. We have a strong cast led by Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson and Hiroyuki Sanada . It is this strong cast that add humour, gravitas and a sense of drama and desperation to wring the most out of the audience. Despite its predictability it does maintain tension very well and the claustrophobic setting of the International Space Station plays an important role in this.

Irishman Seamus McGarvey photographs this film beautifully. His recent works, the sprawling Avengers, the tense Nocturnal Animals and the beautiful Atonement are evident here in the pacing, framing and settings. The back-drop of space and the ISS provide McGarvey with a fantastic palette which uses to great effect. Plus he's no stranger to monsters having filmed Gareth Edwards Godzilla.

I liked it. I predicted all the plot twists and turns an yet I came away with a sense of seeing a set of old movie tropes updated for 2017 with new faces.

Will it be remembered as a classic? No it will not.

The film appears to set itself up for a sequel. I'd probably go see it too.


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