In the resourceful spirit of the typical Hollywood refurbishment (i.e. films that aren’t *particularly* remakes but follow a certain film step for step without slapping its title on the script), Life does its best to resemble every facet that made Alien, this movie’s particular refurbishment source, such a cultural landmark. It does, of course, fail, and it also fails to be even a fraction as pensive as other significant space movies in the past few years, such as Interstellar and Gravity.
Daniel Espinosa’s film lacks all thoughtfulness contained in those films (and even The Martian for that matter), but it isn’t without its thrills, and it is, for the most part, a relatively harmless containment thriller with good sound design and strong performances, both of which are mostly enough to distract us from the lackluster script and directorial vision (minus the opening shot).
Espinosa, who previously directed the Denzel/Reynolds vehicle Safe House, makes a few interesting choices throughout the duration of this piece, but none of them push any kind of encapsulating vision that superior directors simply could have. The opening shot, a long take very much inspired by the opening of Gravity, gets things off to a hopeful start, but the film never doubles down on that laborious style of filmmaking. Instead, Espinosa takes advantage of the zero gravity of space and essentially uses it to tell the story, never offering any kind of flare or artistic punch which could have elevated the material.
It should come as no surprise that Life is written by Deadpool writers Whrett Reese and Paul Wernick, which is a basis for the strange theory that this film is secretly a prequel to Venom, also to be produced by Sony sometime in the near future. This is not that at all, although it does seem to want to play out in ways that could satisfy fans of that particular theory. Instead, the script doesn’t do anything interesting at all, unless you consider the ending interesting, which really isn’t at all.
It’s fine, though. Nothing great, nor even particularly memorable, but its a fast-moving ride that plays out pretty much exactly as you’d expect. Still, if space containment is your kind of entertainment, Life, while flawed and not unlike anything you’ve seen before, should do the job.