I.S.S. is a
psychological thriller that has a clever premise: astronauts and cosmonauts
living on the International Space Station have to battle it out for control of
the station after they see out of their window that a nuclear war has broken
out down on Earth. So it is perplexing that this isn't a better movie than what
Ariana DeBose (Best
Supporting Actress Oscar winner for 2021's West Side Story) is Dr. Kira
Foster, the newest American on board the space station. She is greeted by two
more Americans (Chris Messina and John Gallagher Jr.) and three Russians (Maria
Mashkova, Costa Ronin, and Pilou Asbæk). Everything
is chummy between them all until war breaks out on Earth. The Americans get a
transmission from the United States to take control of the space station by any
means necessary, and, of course, the Russians get the same instructions from their
some good tension early on, but the movie pretty much devolves into a slasher
flick. There is a zero-gravity knife fight that is unintentionally hilarious
because it feels forced in, like a studio executive said, "What this movie
needs is a big action scene. How about a duel to the death in zero gravity?" The
movie probably should have climaxed with a tension filled weightless scene, but
instead we get three people in a kitchen area making sandwiches and seeing who
can swipe the big ass butcher knife first.
I.S.S. is directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, a talented filmmaker who
made the shattering SeaWorld documentary Blackfish (2013), as well as
the affecting drama Megan Leavey (2017). What went wrong with I.S.S.?
Was Nick Shafir's screenplay lacking or was it budget constraints that killed
the construction of more imaginative set-pieces?
Earth isn't flat, but this movie unfortunately is.