Dir. Daniel Espinosa
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Not since Ridley Scott introduced us to the Nostromo in 1979 has an ensemble space movie got us so excited. OK, so I wasn’t around then but truth is, if time travel was real I would be there right now. LIFE stars Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal and has them in the setting of a space station after a successful mission in the search for life on Mars.
Not soon after collecting the evidence does the lifeform start to wake up and as it does, so does its quest for survival forcing the space crew to make their own choice between survival and the mission.
Daniel Espinosa (SAFE HOUSE, CHILD 44) may have a great script to play with thanks to Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick (DEADPOOL, ZOMBIELAND) there are elements of LIFE that feel like a cloning exercise rather than a brand new exploration of space.
The cast, including Hiroyuki Sanada (THE WOLVERINE, 47 RONIN), Ariyon Bakare (ROGUE ONE) and Olga Dihovichnaya are hands down the best space crew since that captained by Ripley herself and the chemistry between them is unmissable. As the dreaded reality of the alien invasion begins, the crews alegiances fall into play and the fight for survival takes courage and sacrifice that really does feel personal.
Unfortunately, the menace at the centre of all the disturbance soon becomes a poorly conceived bundle of CGI. In a genre that is flooded by creatures it’s a hard challenge for the team to build an original alien spieces and the organic feel of the creature is present but once fully formed, the octopus/cat/leaf type being just does not bring the terror that the likes of a Xenomorph ever could. While there are questions about the science, that is the least of the films problems as the creature defies every death trap thrown at it forcing the surviving crew on an unbeatable battle.
LIFE manages to save itself with the tension carried throughout and saves its most nerve shredding moments until the very end as the fight for survival escalates quickly. For the most part, LIFE is enjoyably tense, at others tediously disappointing. A shame when there was an opportunity for another science fiction icon simply becomes nothing more than a clone of better beings before it.