(Directed by Joe Penna) (2021)

Commander Marina Barnett (Toni Collette), scientist David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim) and medico Zoe Levenson (Anna Kendrick) set off on a two-year mission to Mars, unaware until they are past the point of no return, that they are carrying a stowaway [Shades of Dr. Zachary Smith! Oh, the pain of it all – Ed.].

The stowaway, an engineer, Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson), somehow got himself accidentally hidden behind a panel, and just wasn’t noticed during takeoff. He has unwittingly damaged a device necessary for production of breathable air.

Netflix Acquires Sci-Fi Thriller 'Stowaway,' Set For 2021 Release | Downright Creepy

“Need Another Seven [Four] Astronauts?”

What could be a sinister or suspenseful premise develops into a silly and contrived story. Adams’ (apparently true) explanation of how he got himself there is garbled nonsense. Incredibly, the crew shrug their shoulders, say “oh well” and bend over backwards to be kind to Adams. After all, he’s a damn nice man with the scars to show it. Clearly the writers (Joe Penna and Ryan Morrison) wanted a fourth man on a spaceship to create a moral dilemma, no matter how far-fetched the mechanism. (“Here’s an idea! What if there was – somehow – an unexpected passenger on a micro-managed spacecraft…?“and so there he is.) [Or just watch Event Horizon? – Ed.]

Putting aside these ludicrous aspects, Stowaway is a mixed bag. Despite the small world and the four characters, it is not claustrophobic; there is a nice quietness during the moments when the overly-dramatic music is not cranked up to 11. The space-walking scenes are too long for suspense, and owe a lot to Gravity and Tron 2. Toni Collette has an easy authority as the commander, although it is unlikely that she would be the only crew-member able to land the ship (an important plot point). Anna Kendrick is fine, and not at all annoying. The moral dilemma, when it comes, is over with in moments.

Reviews of Stowaway have complained that it is a clichéd ‘unexpected participant in a remote expedition‘ film. Unfortunately it is not. The Thing or Alien it is not. More’s the pity.

Netflix's Stowaway Tangles with Morality in Space | Time


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