Stowaway offers a chilly atmosphere, sensational production value and some excellent performances. However, it fails to live up to its truly heartbreaking philosophical questions by downplaying what should be an edge of your seat series of events and some tough decisions made by the main characters.  

This new movie tells the story of a three person crew facing an incredibly difficult decision when an unplanned passenger is discovered on board, as they embark on a 2 year mission to Mars. 

The film comes to us from writer director Joe Penna, best known for starting his career on YouTube, where his videos garnered over 400 million views. For his second feature film, he, once again, chose to have a small casting. Starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Colette, movies with few actors in them have always fascinated me. These actors are taking on a lot and there is little room for them to hide if one of them isn’t as good as the others. 

Our stars blend in with space seamlessly

First things first, I am truly happy with the casting because everyone does an excellent job as a whole and the chemistry displayed isn’t exclusively reserved for the work they are doing on the spaceship. It’s very nice to hear Toni Collette’s authentic Australian accent and she is amazing as usual playing the commander of this spaceship. Regarding Anna Kendrick, she is wonderful as well, as she brings her usual charm to the role. As for Daniel Dae Kim, he is incredible playing someone with a glowing reputation who is constantly nauseous for almost the entire film. Finally, Shamier Anderson is someone who I’ve never seen before, but after this movie, I hope to see more of him because he is excellent, especially because his character is the reason why we have a story in the first place. All of their characters weren’t showy or flashy, but we learned enough about them to make us care, especially when you consider the events that transpire. 

Like the movie Gravity on Xanax

In Stowaway, you experience being launched into space because everything from the authentic looking spaceship, the portrayal of life inside of this vessel, and the breathtaking views courtesy of the special effects make for some stunning cinematography. It submerges its audience in a bone chilling atmosphere of isolation where you’re worried about making one wrong move, because if you do, nobody could save you. This had me riveted for a decent portion of the film.    

I appreciated the way Stowaway did their best to make a lot of the elements of the story real. The way the crew interacted with each other when it came to delivering bad news and handling very serious situations felt authentic. Director Joe Penna’s low-key approach to certain problems that occur in the film were both good and bad simultaneously. The good centers around the professionalism of the crew and how they would deliver bad news to each other. Proper exposition before everything that transpires made every problem reveal quietly terrifying and fear for the lives of everyone aboard the ship.

A spaced out third act

The negative aspect of the low-key delivery is that about halfway through the film, the story suddenly begins to strain and the intensity starts to run out. Stowaway presents us with a philosophical question that has been portrayed in many movies before and its execution felt lackluster at best. The sense of danger suddenly wasn’t apparent and I hoped it would return. Without giving anything away, the third act finds the crew doing something that is vital to the mission that is supposed to be suspenseful. However, everything came off more underwhelming as a result. Stowaway missed an opportunity to capitalize on its central theme and deliver an ending that would pack an emotional punch. Even with the raised stakes and unplanned situation, the ending felt rushed and anti-climactic.   

Joe Penna appears to have wanted to keep the film as realistic as possible, while maintaining a similar tone throughout. While I could appreciate a director sticking to his vision, I personally believe this was a huge mistake that cost this movie the chance to be great. Stowaway captures the essence of space and features some excellent performances. However, this builds up to an underwhelming third act and emotionless final scene, which came off like a betrayal to the main characters’ tough decisions they made and the movie’s main theme. This crew deserved better and Stowaway left me conflicted because I wanted to like it, but the final act left me wanting more in the worst way.