Joe Penna is coming off of a mild success with his last film the Arctic starring Mads Mikkelsen about a man who gets stranded in the middle of the Arctic wastelands. His sophomore outing Stowaway is set in space. He likes quiet places to set his films in obviously. He hopes to garner more of the success he got for Arctic with Stowaway.
A crew of three members played by Toni Colette, Daniel Dae Kim, and Anna Kendrick, have set out on a mission to Mars when they find they have a fourth member of the crew. This member is accidentally on board due to an injury he suffered while working on the craft before launch. Due to the length of the trip, the crew and craft can’t turn around or go back. Their best option is to try to create more oxygen for their fourth member.
Films set in space are always a gamble because the set production, costumes, and cinematography have to be pretty good-looking. Or everything could come across as fake, phony, and or unbelievable. Then the audience is completely drawn out of the film. Stowaway has the right aesthetic to it to make it look real in the eyes of the viewer such as me. The other aspect of the film that needed to be real is the danger aspect. Are these people in real danger and do I believe what the story says on how they are put in this situation? I did believe the situation they were in and I felt the danger coming from the cast members.
The actors are all first-rate so they know how to get into character, especially Toni Colette who’s been doing this for a while. Her turns in The Sixth Sense and Hereditary are both phenomenal, to say the least. Anna Kendrick and Daniel Dae Kim are also established stars in Hollywood and can get to the point of their characters for the most part. They too do a very good job making this situation a vital one and a life-altering scenery for the entire crew. Penna is good at putting his characters in grave danger.
Stowaway moves relatively quickly through its hour and fifty-six-minute run time. At times it seemed to drag though. The atmosphere of space can sometimes be a drag on the story. The story should have allowed for more character-building moments, instead, it focuses on the survival moments. It gets into the space jargon too much for my liking. I would have liked to know more about these people who may or may not lose their lives. The script is the worst part of the film. Also maybe twenty minutes could have been cut off the runtime to make it flow better.
Stowaway is a solid space drama. It has a good cast led by three stellar actors. The visuals are very good as well as the below-the-line categories of costumes and set production. The gravity of the story is fine, but maybe a little bit more back story to the characters would have helped me care about their situation more. Overall the film does its job of making me and the audience concerned about these people’s welfare, and that makes it a success in my book.
Dan Skip Allen