Life: Another movie about space that wastes space

Published: April 5, 2017

The entire project suffers from an overall lack of originality, and its inability to bring anything new to the genre makes the film feel redundant. PHOTO: IMDb.

The possibility of life on Mars has been a source of endless fascination for us Earthlings. The existence of extra-terrestrial beings along with its worst case implications form the basis of the thriller Life. The movie is a sci-fi horror vehicle that pairs a talented cast with a routine plot to yield mediocre results.

The action takes place on board the International Space Station, where a six member crew – portrayed by actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, and Olga Dihovichnaya – captures a capsule returning from Mars. Upon studying the Red Planet’s soil samples, the astronauts find a dormant organism that they manage to revive. But their excitement at the discovery of the “first incontrovertible proof of life beyond Earth” soon dampens as the initially single-celled being quickly grows and evolves into a vicious predator, escapes its containment and starts feasting on the crew.

Ryan Reynolds in Life (2017)
Photo: IMDb

Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal in Life (2017)
Photo: IMDb

Stranded in space and hunted by the mutated monster, the astronauts struggle for survival as the creature chases them all over the orbital station.

It’s a claustrophobic setting tossed into the infinite vastness of space, and the result is both tense and stale. At its core, Life is basically a generic monster flick that doesn’t try to be inventive with its plot and sticks to a well-worn path. Like an amalgam of Alien and GravityLife keeps revisiting familiar territories, but Daniel Espinosa’s space adventure does offer some suspense and manages to avoid several clichés along the way.

Rebecca Ferguson in Life (2017)
Photo: IMDb

Hiroyuki Sanada in Life (2017)
Photo: IMDb

The characters aren’t particularly well-developed or interesting but the multinational cast that plays them is impressive. To be fair, the order in which the individuals get picked off isn’t as predictable as it often is in such movies. But the entire project suffers from an overall lack of originality, and its inability to bring anything new to the genre makes the film feel redundant.

Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal in Life (2017)
Photo: IMDb

Ultimately, there is nothing special about the story or script of Life. The movie is well cast and visually impressive but on a whole, too derivative. You will probably enjoy the film if you don’t expect too much from this sci-fi horror flick and are content with a routine thriller.

Sameen Amer

Sameen Amer

The author is a Lahore-based freelance writer and critic. She tweets as @Sameen (

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