'Stowaway' Is as Slow-Paced as an Actual Mission to Mars

Directed by Joe Penna

Starring Toni Collette, Daniel Dae Kim, Anna Kendrick, Shamier Anderson

BY Alex HudsonPublished Apr 22, 2021

For a sci-fi thriller about an ill-fated mission to Mars, Stowaway misses a lot of opportunities to be exciting. These two hours are about as slow-paced as an actual mission to Mars — there's simmering tension and worry about all the things that could go wrong, but mostly it's a lot of sitting around, problem-solving and routine chores.

Ship commander Marina (Toni Collette), doctor Zoe (Anna Kendrick) and biologist David (Daniel Dae Kim) are on a mission to Mars at an indeterminate point in the near future. The ship's resources are already stretched thin with three astronauts — but their situation goes from tricky to impossible when they discover Michael (Shamier Anderson), a launch plan engineer who fell into a crevice of the ship and suffered a concussion before takeoff.

There's no turning back by the time they find Michael stowed away, and he initially fits in nicely with his new crewmates. When the ship's life support systems fail, however, the crew face the difficult fact that not all of them will be able to make it to Mars.

Those revelations could have happened in dramatic fashion (compare this with Gravity's thrilling collisions with space junk or The Martian's stunning setting). There aren't even many images of space until the final act — it's mostly just quiet human moments within the stark setting of the ship. A climactic spacewalk is a rare moment of traditional Hollywood excitement. The synth-y score from Volker Bertelmann adds some spookiness and tension, even when not all that much is happening onscreen.

It's not a very exciting deep-space voyage, but with an excellent cast — all of whom give solid but not career-defining performances — Stowaway intriguingly grapples with themes about survival and the sacrifices that must be made for the greater good.
(Prime Video)

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