Holy. Fucking. Shit. Balls.
I went into Life with a general idea about what the movie was about, and I thought it was going to follow some generic cookie cutter script. Oh me oh my was I ever wrong. There was nothing cookie cutter about this god damn movie in the least. I walked out of the theater two hours later looking around and making sure I wasn’t going to be murdered by a fucking killer alien organism that looked like the hellspawn lovechild of Satan and that octopus-like creature from Evolution.
I don’t even know where to begin with this review. I sort of want to start at the end, but I need to warn you all that there are going to be MAJOR FUCKING SPOILERS ahead in this review. And lots of cursing, but you already expected that since we’re already like 150 words in and I’m still geeked out of my mind as I try to process what the hell even happened. Okay, so let’s get this on the road. I need to start somewhere. Might as well start at the beginning.
The movie starts out with a pod being grabbed by the International Space Station (ISS). In it is a soil sample taken from Mars that the crew had been waiting eight months for. During the processing of said soil sample, they come to find out that there’s a microscopic single cell organism inside. They intend to see if it’s intelligent life, and let me just tell you that fuck yeah it’s intelligent life. Far more perspicacious than they ever could have imagined.
The organism is given a name by an elementary school that won a contest out of 11,000 eligible schools, and they named it after their school which was Calvin Coolidge Elementary — so the soon-to-be murderous insane creature was named Calvin. And boy oh boy, did Calvin ever fuck some people up in this god damn cinematic adventure!
Anyways, biologist Hugh Derry basically spurs this thing to life through electroshock after it went dormant for a little while, and the thing literally attaches itself to the glove Derry was using. Oh, that’s not all. Oh no no. IT SNAPS HIS FUCKING FINGERS AND HAND LIKE A TWIG UNTIL IT’S JUST DANGLING THERE! Then the creature uses the little cattle prod poker thing to rip a hole in the glove so it can escape. That’s when the real fun begins, folks!
Before Ryan Reynolds, who plays the main pilot for the ISS, goes in there to save Derry and get him out there, Calvin goes into the cage where the lab rat is cooped up, and flat out ENVELOPS THE GOD DAMN RAT AND TURNS IT INSIDE OUT WHILE SPINNING IT AND DRAINING IT OF ITS FUCKING ESSENCE. While Reynolds is in there, though, the creature attaches itself to his leg and he’s airlocked in the damn laboratory with the killer demented slime devil. It’s a real hoot.
Reynolds gets an oxygen candle and attempts to burn the little shit off his leg, which he does, but then the thing tries to exact some revenge. Reynolds grabs a flamethrower thingy and attempts to burn the living shit out of Calvin, but the creature just won’t die. Then Calvin jumps into Reynolds’ mouth, goes into his body, and RIPS HIS BODY TO SHREDS FROM THE INSIDE BY MAKING REYNOLDS THROW UP BLOOD TO THE POINT OF DEATH! THEN HIS BODY EXPLODES FROM THE FRONT A LITTLE BIT! AND THIS ALL TOOK PLACE IN THE FIRST 35 FUCKING MINUTES!
Quick sidenote: this movie gets major brownie points for (a) killing a big time actor as the first casualty and (b) not killing the black guy, Hugh Derry, first. Major points for that shit.
So, from there, Calvin gets into the vents, starts to cause havoc, and the crew realizes he needs a few things to live. He’s basically a human organism: it needs food and oxygen. That’s what Calvin is there to get – fucking food and fucking oxygen. And boy does he get it! He ends up drowning Katerina Golovkina, the commander of the ISS, to death by rupturing her coolant system which spreads liquid all throughout her suit. She was trying to attempt a spacewalk to fix the communications antenna. So, that didn’t go so well, ya know?
The remaining crew members attempt to barricade themselves inside by making it impossible for Calvin to get to them, but that doesn’t go to plan for them. While they’re barricaded in one room of the ISS, Derry goes into cardiac arrest, and that’s when the crew realizes that Calvin is actually attached to Derry’s god damn leg and feeding off of him. The remaining three crew members try to get away from Calvin, but two go one way and the third, Sho Murakami, goes to his sleeping cabin to try and get away.
Calvin tries to crush the sleeping chamber, but he sees Murakami actually look at him and look scared, and that’s when Calvin decides to leave him alone. He’s just swimming through the ship when Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Dr. Miranda North realize Calvin swallowed the tracker from Derry’s leg. That means they’re able to track Calvin the whole time. The two of them setup an elaborate plan to deprive Calvin of oxygen, and it works. Well, it was working until a Soyuz capsule, which was meant to push the ISS into deep space so as to not allow Calvin to reach earth, docks with the exact fucking part of the ship Calvin is trapped in.
Because of the fact he sees the capsule arrive, and because he thinks it’s a rescue pod to get him back home, Murakami makes a run (or, rather, a zero gravity trek) to the pod. Calvin attacks him, the seal to the capsule starts to rupture, and he’s basically killed by Calvin as the other two astronauts escape prior to the capsule crashing into the ISS and destroying a hefty portion of it. The two of them then realize they’re running out of oxygen, which means they’re going to die without hurtling Calvin deeper into space. So, they decide to get crazy.
The two of them realize that they still have oxygen candles to burn, and Dr. Jordan will use himself as a decoy to get Calvin into one of the escape pods while Dr. North gets into the other escape pod and goes back to earth. He’s going to sacrifice himself so that Calvin never gets to earth. The plan actually goes swimmingly. Calvin follows the candles, gobbles them up, and Dr. Jordan locks Calvin with him in the escape pod. From there, Gyllenhaal manually overrides the escape pod navigation system so as to propel himself and Calvin into deep space.
There’s a really cool scene where Calvin and Gyllenhaal come face to face as Calvin realizes what Gyllenhaal’s attempting to do. It’s pretty bad ass. Anyways, one of the escape pods hits some debris and is sent off course, but Gyllenhaal is still controlling his escape pod with all his might as Calvin fights him. Dr. North is on a steady little course, and one of the pods actually reenters the atmosphere and lands nice and safely in Hạ Long Bay.
Two fishermen spot the pod, they go up to the window, and they look in.
IT WAS CALVIN AND JAKE FUCKING GYLLENHAAL BACK ON EARTH, AND DR. NORTH WAS SENT SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL INTO DEEP SPACE TO DIE WHILE THE ALIEN MANAGED TO GET TO EARTH.
Gyllenhaal shouts “no” to the fishermen, but they open up the pod and the screen fades to back while we wonder what the fucking fuck just happened!
There are not enough stars for me to give this movie. It’s easily the best movie I’ve seen in 2017. By far. Not even a question. There was legitimate suspense from the opening scene to the final moments, and the music was just flat out splendid. The way everything built up to a blazing crescendo that had you on the edge of your seat was just raw awesomeness. It had you believing that a jump scare was around every corner, and while there were some that happened, there weren’t really more than a couple. And they all made sense. They just had you in the palm of their hand the whole time.
It was just a beautifully well-crafted movie from start to finish. The fact they weren’t afraid to kill off someone like Ryan Reynolds after about 30 minutes spoke to the sheer greatness of this movie, as well. They went to depths that few films strive to reach, and it just worked. It just really, really worked. The movie flowed. There were certainly hair-raising and tense moments, but they balanced those out with subtle moments – such as the birth of Murakami’s daughter and the astronauts talking about home.
When you actually break it down, there were only eight actors in this entire movie, and two of them – the fishermen – didn’t show up until the very end. In essence, six actors handled this movie and it was just so god damn beautiful. Each one had a great performance to some degree, but the ability of Gyllenhaal was pretty unmatched. He delivered a superb rendition of someone in space for an ungodly amount of time. Just a gorgeous movie all-around.
There was nothing in this movie that I disliked. Nothing. The action shots were great and crisp, the acting was genuine and on point, Calvin was insanely complex and ingenuitive, the score was beautiful and tense, and the ride the movie took you on was just unlike anything else for me. There was danger and compassion and thrill and intrigue and everything you could ever want in a movie.
I managed to sneak a few pictures while I was in the movie, and the only reason I even did it was because I was literally the only one in the theater at that time. As I come to the close of this article, I just want to say that I hope they don’t make a sequel to this. We don’t need it. We don’t need to see what happens with Calvin on earth or anything like that. Let the mystery remain the greatest gift the movie gave us. That overall feeling as the fishermen peered into the capsule and saw Calvin and Gyllenhaal is one I won’t quickly forget. It was magnificent.
So, should you go see this movie even after reading the plot and hearing me rave about it for a long while? Yes, yes you should. Go do it right now. And if the theater isn’t open, make them open it just for you so you can go into that theater by yourself and sit there as Calvin goes ape shit on some helpless astronauts. It’ll make your fucking day and year.
Calvin made Hugh Derry’s year, that’s for certain.
Fuck what a film.