Suspenseful & Thrilling | Review of ‘Life’ (2017 Film)

By Cynthia Ayala

Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare & Olga Dihovichnaya
Columbia Pictures
Image Credit: IMDB

“A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.”


The alien in space movie is not new, many are failures, but others have become staples of the genre. Life is part of the latter. The premise of the film is about a team of scientists who have discovered life on Mars. At first, the creature is docile, but when provoked, the alien has entered monster territory, if only for its desire to survive. The problem is it doesn’t know when to stop feeding, creating a being that is incredibly dangerous. What makes it even more dangerous is how smart it is. It evolves, and with its evolution, it grows bigger. It’s a sinister being and the writers knew how to develop the creature, its needs and everything that made it dangerous.

The tension and suspension in the film are what make it such a good movie. There are tons of scenes where “Calvin” isn’t around, and the film focuses on the characters, their fears of the monster, their desire to survive and the firewalls in place that could either save them or kill them all. They develop as characters as the stakes continue to rise throughout the film, and they have the dynamics to make the film rich, to make the viewer eager to have them survive the outcome of the film.

As suspenseful as the film is there are some flaws in the opening of the film. There are times where common sense just makes the characters look a little, not stupid, but certainly foolish. They act as destroyers rather than containers. While this inevitably leads up to the brutality that is “Calvin” and his eventual escape, there are times in that opening where the plot could have moved in a different way.

As for the acting, it was terrific. These actors spent much of their time on harnesses filming this movie, and that itself is a challenge, because it’s a very unorthodox way of filming, unique to the film, and deserves credit. The special effects and the use of the harnesses created a very believable zero-gravity effect for the film. And for the actors to keep in character and raise the emotional stakes of their characters was amazing. It’s easy to forget that this film was filmed on a set and not actually in space. That’s how believable the special effects and acting were.

Overall, while this is a sci-fi thriller, at the end of the day it’s a survivor film much like Ridley Scott’s Alien. Not just a fight for survival for the crew, but a battle to keep the alien in space and never let it endanger life on Earth. And with the tension and suspense of the film, it’s an entertaining film that will keep the audience on their toes. (★★★☆ | A)

—Film Credits—

Directed by Daniel Espinosa

Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare & Olga Dihovichnaya

Rating | Length | Genre: R | 1h 44min | HorrorSci-FiThriller

Distributed by Columbia Pictures

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