Full of scares, but lacking depth

Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson in Life via Sony Pictures
Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson in Life via Sony Pictures

‘Life’ film review

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter




Life (2017) is a rollercoaster of a movie that plays with your emotions and fears, but in a way that you would have seen coming from light years away.

This sci-fi horror film follows a group of astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) in what begins as a discovery of the first signs of life beyond Earth. Unfortunately, the six-member crew soon finds out that their life-changing discovery will do anything to survive.

Three leading actors share the screen in a combination that can only be described as random. When Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, and Jake Gyllenhaal are placed together, it fits like an overly large glove—it seems like it could fit, but alas, expectations don’t quite meet reality.

While these three play off each other mediocrely well, the on-screen chemistry between Ferguson and Gyllenhaal, especially, seems forced. What Gyllenhaal brings to the table, Ferguson lacks. In one scene, Gyllenhaal’s character is frustrated and hopeless, while Ferguson’s lacks any emotion whatsoever. All in all, the emotions that are displayed by the leading actors lack depth, with empty cries and echoing shouts.

Ferguson is easily forgettable in this role. Even with sufficient screen time, she blends into the background because she, or rather her character, makes no unpredictable moves by simply playing it safe.

Reynolds brings the comedic relief to a movie that requires none—whether that is a positive or negative, the debate is still open. Ultimately, he is placed in a movie that doesn’t use him to his full potential. Perhaps his Deadpool character has put him into a certain movie category that he just can’t escape.

Gyllenhaal bears the brunt of the film, though it isn’t done excellently. While he hits all the notes, the only redeeming qualities are the emotions he displays on-screen and the way he performs so naturally. Unfortunately, one fantastic actor can’t save an entire script.

Notably, the supporting cast, which includes Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, and Olga Dihovichnaya, offer some redeeming qualities to the film. Sanada shines in his role as a father who wants to return home to his newborn child, and his performance breathes depth into this character. Bakare and Dihovichnaya add to their roles by providing raw, uninhibited fear to their reactions.

When it comes to suspense and shock, this movie is not lacking. The alien life-form the crew discovers grows in its fear factor whenever it appears on-screen. Near the end of the film, a surprise plot twist nearly knocks audience members out of their seats.

While plot twists provide shock to movie goers, they sometimes create a black hole in continuity. In the middle of the film, the alien shows up in a certain location and surprises the crew. Shock factor is apparent, but an explanation of how the alien got there is not.

Although Life has its redeeming qualities, the shock and suspense seemed lackluster. At the end of the day, if you’re into sci-fi and looking for a quick film to watch for its shock value, pick this one. If you’re hoping for anything with depth and meaning, watch something else.