Review: The Terror Is Real In ‘Life’

By Bryan Sudfield, Contributing Writer

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life movie review
The theatrical release poster for “Life.”
Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

If you were tell me there was a new space movie with Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson, who are three of Hollywood’s most beautiful people, I would say I would be there opening weekend.

From the trailers, “Life” looked like it was going to be a formulaic space movie, but I was curious for the talent and talent alone. It comes from Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, who helmed “Safe House,” which starred Reynolds and Denzel Washington from a few years back. In this movie, we follow a group of astronauts on the International Space Station as they discover an evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars. The astronauts have to find their way to safety, as they attempt to get rid of this “creature” of sorts.

Like I brought up earlier, I was not 100 percent sold on this movie, despite the talent involved. I started hearing good reviews surrounding “Life” and I have to say, after watching it, I was really satisfied with this movie.

“Life” was very well-acted, extremely suspenseful and beautifully shot. Espinosa’s direction is solid and he’s able to make the audience feel claustrophobic as we’re in this confined location for the entirety of its 103-minute running time.

The production design deserves some credit, as does the cinematography. The DP of “Life” recently shot “Nocturnal Animals,” so I may be biased since I adored that movie’s cinematography.

The plot may feel formulaic, as we have seen it in other movies beforehand. However, there are very clever twists and turns that make the movie unpredictable and leave you breathless from beginning to end. I cannot even say how many times I was on the edge of my seat and screaming internally while watching “Life.”

The performances are easily the best thing about the movie, with Gyllenhaal and Reynolds being my favorites. Everyone was on their A-game here and there are not many actors in the film, as it focuses on the six members of the mission on the ISS.

Now, I was curious to know how the dialogue would turn out, since it was written by “Zombieland” and “Deadpool” scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The dialogue was pretty flat, but I don’t see anyone going to this movie for the dialogue. They go for the actors and story, especially if you expected the story to be a certain way.

I will give Reese and Wernick credit for pulling curves throughout the movie that made it vastly unpredictable. There wasn’t much development to the characters, but I felt like I was able to connect with them as they were on the verge of a haunting crisis.

Overall, “Life” was a solid, fast-paced piece of entertainment. The performances were strong, the direction was good and while the writing was weak, I was still able to get a ton of enjoyment out of “Life.” I recommend this movie, but it would be worth it at matinee instead.

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