In Life, the crew of the International Space Station make a find, however they soon find out their discovery might not be what it seems.
Since the days of legends such as Ingrid Bergman, Ingmar Bergman (no relation) and Greta Garbo, swedes have been in high demand in Hollywood. Nowadays, cover girls like Oscar winner Alicia Vikander and Alien actress Noomi Rapace have become sought-after stars.
The new space horror Life plugs into the cinematic traditions of this small northern country. It is directed by native Daniel Espinosa and Rebecca Ferguson is one of the stars. Unfortunately, this film is never going to enter the history books as another Swedish film art sensation.
The story is simple. The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) are facing the greatest discovery in the history of mankind when they receive a sample of dust from Mars, containing more than just rocks and sand. The scientific expedition soon takes a dark turn as it becomes clear that it might be the last discovery for the human race. Life gets its inspiration from a buffet of predecessors such as Alien, Gravity and even the more surface-bound Jaws. It simply doesn’t hold a candle to any of them.
Since Espinosa’s hit movie Easy Money was released, his subsequent films have at best received a lukewarm reception from critics and viewers alike. Life is no different. With big names such as Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, you would at least expect a half decent script. But the dialogue lacks life as much as logic and it’s only through pure talent that Gyllenhaal and Ferguson are able to keep their characters alive.
In a clear case of filmic schizophrenia, the over-packed scenes lurch from extreme suspense to extreme drama, attempting to create some form of compassion with the ill-fated crew. And that’s before we reach the film’s worst – and unforgivable – sin: the dull monster. Every good horror needs a badass monster. Without it, not even the scariest build-up will save your movie. In Life, at best the monster looks like a Pokémon character and at worst, like a cobra wrapped in a condom… yeah you read me right.
So the verdict is clear. Life will not be the comeback that Espinosa’s reputation needs. He will probably get more opportunities, though. It’s not good, it’s not overly bad, it’s just very forgettable.
By Daniel Ogalde