2017 Certificate: 15

Synopsis

An international team of space station astronauts, including Jake Gyllenhaal's doctor,  Ryan Reynolds' engineer and Rebecca Ferguson's Brit microbiologist, discover there is life on Mars. However, on board, the anemone-like single-celled cutesy quickly outgrows its petri dish and reveals its true colours as a muscular parasite with an insatiable appetite. Director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) crafts a gruesomely efficient sci-fi thriller with a nasty sting in the tail.

Director

  • Daniel Espinosa

Cast

  • Rebecca Ferguson

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

  • Ryan Reynolds

  • Hiroyuki Sanada

  • Olga Dihovichnaya

  • Ariyon Bakare

  • Alexandre Nguyen

Review

Director Daniel Espinosa's solid sci-fi thriller is all about the crew of an international space station struggling to escape the attentions of a voracious Martian creature. 

However, it's also going to struggle to escape comparisons with Ridley Scott's classic ​Alien.

The six-strong crew of the ISS successfully send a probe down to the surface of Mars and it returns with a red soil sample containing a single-celled organism which biologist Hugh (Bakere) successfully grows in a sealed lab.

It's all going so well - the crew congratulate themselves on discovering life on Mars and the little fellah is nicknamed Calvin. Then Calvin crushes Hugh's hand to a pulp and - using a scalpel - the cute little alien goes AWOL in the corridors of the space ship.

So far, so Alien. However, Espinosa demonstrates some neat flourishes of his own. Believable dialogue - even the tecchie stuff - between the team gives them an authenticity that renders the grimmer moments - plump globules of blood weightlessly drifting around and a space-suited crew member drowning in insulation fluid - truly disturbing.

It's also well choreographed. Not quite a gory ​Gravity but the claustrophobic confines of the space station with a flesh-crazed critter on the loose are ickily conveyed and the various sticky ends the team meet have to be applauded for their grisly invention.

So, while the shadow of Ridley Scott's 1979 classic hangs heavy, this has enough tricks up its sleeve to provide the necessary thrills in its own right.

Life's what you make of it.

Tim Evans