I have never been a stowaway before, but I have been a part of a stowaway situation. Kind of.
Once, when I was a young lad, barely in high school, I went on a trip with my older brother and four of his older friends. I was the smallest person, and we had to travel in a small car. I was afraid that they would want me to go into the trunk, being the smallest person, but my brother, the driver, didn’t let it happen. Someone volunteered to go in the trunk and was in there for an entire hour car ride, just to go play some magic cards. And he found a different way home later that night.
So, it was a stowaway situation but we were all aware and knew about it. Most of the time stowaways are secrets from someone. So let’s assume Stowaway the film has some secrets in it as well.
In space, no one can hear your secrets.
Three scientists are on their way to Mars for some science yeahhhh! Most astronauts are scientists, but in reality, this is like one astronaut that is a scientist, and two scientists who are now astronauts. Marina Barnett (Toni Collette) is the leader of the crew, this is not her first rodeo, she knows how to get things done. Our other two crew members, David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim) and Zoe Levenson (Anna Kendrick) put in proposals for research and got accepted, trained and are excited to be there!
And sure, during blast off, more fuel got used than expected. A little weird, but not unheard of in the exact science of space travel.
It doesn’t take long before they find out what went wrong. Turns out there is an extra person on board, and he is hurt. Once they get him healed and talking, Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson) is shocked and freaking out. Just an engineer who worked for the space company, an accident knocked him out and on board, and things are going to get weird.
It could have been “fine” overall. They had food and supplies and he would pull his weight. But that same accident seems to have damaged a CO2 converter. You know, one that makes Oxygen. And if they can’t make enough Oxygen for the journey for four people, then some really hard decisions are going to have to be made.
This is a great time for an emergency meeting.
When I first saw the description, I laughed. What do they mean running out of oxygen? I am pretty sure space stations have so many extra reserves of things and supplies, so they can take five times as long at least to keep things safe. The Martian taught us that. How could one man ruin that? Well, the film goes out of its way to explain all of these things. The reason oxygen is low, why they can’t easily get more, and their attempts at plan B and plan C to make it work.
But the whole point of this movie is like a very expensive trolley problem. Can they kill one or two people to save the rest, or should they risk it to save them all or none of them? (Note, they know the science and know that the risk can’t possibly work out either).
And who is it to die? The stowaway who technically caused the issue, but is not his fault. Or one of the crew members who signed up knowing the risks that they would face. Could they live knowing they let someone die for them?
I liked the questions posed in this slow space drama, and it gave me a slight ever tiny cry near the end. The effects are fine, but the acting is stellar. I expect a lot out of Kendrick, Kim, and Collette in a film like this, and barely have seen Anderson in anything else, but they all deliver. They are believable, they are different, and they are smart. This is a no dummy space flight. And it is annoying I have to mention that, given how many space movies send morons out into space apparently.
Stowaway wanted to ask a hard question, and it gave some hard answers. I appreciate it telling the story it told.