I will start out by noting that Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynold’s press tour for Life was much more entertaining than the actual film. If you have not seen their interviews, I highly recommend going over to YouTube to check out some clips.
Life, directed by Daniel Espinosa, was released on March 24 (2017). It follows the treacherous journey of a team aboard the International Space Station. They discover a life form originating from Mars, and it soon causes terror aboard the craft. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as David Jordan. He is accompanied by Ryan Reynolds (Rory Adams), Rebecca Ferguson (Miranda North), Hiroyuki Sanada (Sho Murakami), Ariyon Bakare (Hugh Derry), and Olga Dihovichnaya (Ekaterina Golovkina). I was expecting a film that was somewhat decent because of its accomplished cast, but my expectations were not met.
The biggest problem I had with Life was the lack of character development. The story never gives any reason for the audience to care about any of the scientists, except maybe for Sho Murakami because he had a newborn baby at home. I failed to pick up some of the crew’s names, and that made it even more difficult to build a connection. There were countless unanswered questions I had regarding some of the characters. Dr. David Jordan was noticeably quiet, and there was no explanation why. He is a gloomy person who hates Earth for some odd reason. I was concerned about this character only because Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my favorite actors. I am puzzled as to why Gyllenhaal chose to do this film because I cannot imagine that the script was enticing. Ryan Reynolds was funny, but something was awkward about it. His smart-aleck comments and funny jokes were masked by someone else talking and poor direction. If they really wanted him to be an entertaining character, more spotlight should have been shed on him. Reynolds is a gifted comedic actor, but his part felt contrived, which was no fault of his own ability. The writers and director did not support the talent they were working with.
The plot of Life gave the impression that it was attempting to be the next Alien or something similar. There were several poorly written scenes that tried to be serious or touching, but I was not convinced at all. The first thirty minutes of this film were incredibly boring. I did not understand what exactly was happening because the scientists were talking in “scientific” terms and the dialogue was muffled. Everything was cliché and unrealistic. Why would NASA send up a group of scientists that repeatedly made stupid mistakes? There is no way the team would have passed as professionals in the real world. In one scene, Dr. Hugh Derry is attacked by the alien life form while working in the lab, and Rory Adams decides that it is a smart idea to go in and help him. Obviously that was not going to end well. Surely the writers could have written the script in a way that allowed the characters to avoid predictable scenarios and blunders. I almost screamed when Dr. David Jordan proposed a simple idea to save the scientists at the very end of the film. Where was that idea an hour ago? There was no logic in the storyline whatsoever.
The most cringe-worthy moment of the film was the ending, which was supposed to be a major plot twist. In a way it was, but it was executed in a laughable (I really wanted to yell) manner. I will spoil the ending since this review should have discouraged you from ever seeing Life. Dr. David Jordan creates a plan to use the two escape pods to safely return one astronaut to Earth and take one astronaut back into space with the alien. Jordan is supposed to be the one sacrificing his life by taking the alien with him, but somehow the alien takes control of his escape pod once the mission is underway. The alien steers Jordan’s pod towards Earth and the wrong pod is sent into orbit. Jordan’s pod lands in the ocean, and two fishermen open the door. The film ends there, but the audience assumes that the alien takes over Earth. I had a problem with this ending because it was idiotic and foolish. The pod in the ocean had a window that clearly showed the alien and Jordan inside. Jordan was loudly yelling “No!” to the fishermen, but they ignore him. Even though the fishermen did not speak English, “no” is a universal word. This “plot twist” was a failure.
Do not go see this film unless you want to waste money on a movie ticket. It was a terrible and lazy attempt at making a “legendary” sci-fi thriller. I cannot understand what Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds saw in this opportunity except for the fact that they would be working together. Life lacks in-depth characters, a logical storyline, and it contains too many foreseeable events. Very disappointing.
Life is rated R for language, graphic images, and violence.
Image credit to http://www.cinemablend.com