Spoiler free movie preview: Life

It’s alien versus astronaut in a gripping disaster movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. 

March 23, 2017

In a nutshell: Gravity + Alien + Apollo 13 = Life.

The plot: Six astronauts are happily cruising through space on Mission Mars Pilgrim 7 analysing samples from Mars in a bid to determine if there is life outside our planet. They discover a small jelly-like plant the size of a finger and a cute kid back on Earth names it Calvin to cheering crowds in New York. Behold, a truly nasty cinematic villain is born. There then follows two hours of alien attack, biology, space puzzles, and depleting oxygen as Calvin goes toe to toe with the crew.

The tension: Ryan Reynolds tweeted a link to the movie’s trailer in October and described it as a ‘sip of piping hot heart attack.’ He’s right on the money. The tension is unbearable. As Calvin grows larger, more intelligent and meaner, the astronauts find their escape routes cut off one by one, building to a nerve-shredding climax. 

The set: A huge, sprawling space ship with dozens of air locks and chambers, through which the cast float. It’s claustrophobic and you sense that the crew are so alone and a long way from home. Red alarm buzzers frequently flash and buzz, causing the crew’s (and the audience’s) hearts to beat a little quicker. The camera work is ‘floaty’ so you feel like you’re weightless in space with the crew - not a good place to be. 

The cast: Rebecca Ferguson, previously seen in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, has a lot of screen time and her British scientist character Miranda North keeps her cool admirably in the face of some awful alien munching. Jake Gyllenhaal is subdued but effective. Hiroyuki Sanada is great as the pilot Sho who watches the birth of his child via iPad on board the ship. Strong support comes from Russian skipper Kat, played Olga Dihovichnaya, and Ariyon Bakare, the biologist who first analyses Calvin. Ryan Reynolds plays it pretty close to Deadpool with some funny one liners and a no-nonsense attitude. No surprise, really, as Life is written by Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick.

The verdict: Breathless tension and gory horror that moves along at a slick pace. Plus, in Calvin, we have a new creature that will give a whole generation nightmares.

And now, watch the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal and hope they make more movies and interview together.