Review | Life (2017)

Review | Life (2017)


Is Life just another monster trapped on a spaceship film or can it offer something new?

I saw the trailer for Life and let the film pass me by. It looked like another science fiction horror film in space much in the vein of the classic Alien from 1979.

However, when the opportunity arose, I decided to give the film a chance to see if it could offer anything new to the genre.


Astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extra-terrestrial life on Mars. As members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves far more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined.


This film as far as I had heard hadn’t received very much fanfare and kind of passed most people buy. I know Columbia Pictures were pushing the film on YouTube with some red band R-rated trailers to try and garner more interest.

As you’ve already read from the synopsis, the International Space Station is set to receive a probe from Mars that is confirmed to carry the first existence of extra-terrestrial life.

Once the sample is on board, and that is a tense and great opening to the film, the lead scientist starts to analyse the new life form.

As you may already have gathered, this isn’t a fully-grown creature but a collection of single-cell life forms. Believing it to be in some form of hibernation, they bring the creature back to life from its slumber.

After a period, the cells start to join and grow at an exponential rate. The new creature, nicknamed “Calvin” by a group of American school children, starts to explore its unfamiliar environment until its big enough that it starts to defend itself and fight back.

Before they know it, and as you can probably guess, the creature is loose on the space station. Can the crew capture or destroy it? How many people will be left by the end?

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Whilst this could simply be passed off as another Alien clone, which in truth it is, it is still a decent film its own right.

Being set aboard the present day International Space Station meant it was entertaining watching, in some respects, a fairly accurate representation of how a collection of astronauts might try and deal with such a situation.

“Calvin” the alien is a nasty piece of work and a very intelligent one at that. I won’t go into too much more details because that would spoil your enjoyment of the film.

You can watch the first ten minutes here.

Life certainly has an impressive cast and the marketing did lean a little towards Ryan Reynolds but I’ll just say this isn’t his film.

Reynolds plays American, system engineer, Rory Adams. In my opinion, it’s Ryan being Ryan. The wisecracking, friendly guy who gets serious when he needs to.

The rest of the crew are played by Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada (who you may have already seen as an astronaut in 2007’s Sunshine), Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya.

I obviously won’t say who lives or dies but that was a great collective cast and I enjoyed all of their performances.

This was one of those films where everyone acted as rational people, or in this case astronauts, and I don’t recall anyone acting over the top. There were no girls screaming in terror attracting the monster which then attacks them.

The real highlight of the film for me was an ending that I didn’t see coming and I applaud them for it. It was great to see a movie of this kind do something a little different for a change. I want to say more but obviously can’t say for spoiler reasons.

Just see Life for yourself and I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

No, this isn’t a secret origin story for Venom either! (Calm down internet!)

The story may not be original but it’s very well executed with an ending I loved.

John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves the movies and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990's. Whilst the web page idea became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. Now he's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.