Six astronauts on the I.S.S. must decide what side they are on when war breaks out on Earth between their countries.
Spoiler Level: Mild
The International Space Station is a multinational collaboration with a primary purpose of performing experiments which focus on microgravity and effects of space environments. The collaborators consist of NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), CSA (Canada) and the station serves as a symbol that we all come from one planet and are one people. The film I.S.S. sees three Russian and three American scientists stationed aboard the I.S.S. with the newest member, Dr. Kira Foster (Ariana DeBose) having just arrived. The crew also consists of Commander Gordon Barrett (Chris Messina) and Russian scientist Weronika Vetrov (Masha Mashkova) who have fallen in love and entered a romantic relationship; American Christian Campbell (John Gallagher Jr.); and Russian brothers Nicholai and Alexey Pulov (Costa Ronin and Pilou Asbaek). After Kira meets her peers and gets settled in feeling how close the crew is, she witnesses nuclear war breaking out on the surface of Earth. Shortly after both the Russians and the Americans each receive a single message to “Take the I.S.S. by any means necessary”. It turns out, Alexey has perfected a cure for radiation poisoning which could save millions of lives and both governments want it. Will the crew obey their government’s orders and betray the people that have become like family to them, or will they follow their conscience? Watch and find out!
I had seen the trailer for this movie and thought it looked interesting but was expecting a cliched “us vs them” type of story, but I was happily surprised by how this story progressed and the complexity of the situation and how the characters deal with what is happening down below. Before war breaks out below, there is a great scene where the crew sings the Scorpions song “Winds of Change” and this sparks a slightly heated conversation amongst the crew about how the song means different things between the two nations and how they do not talk politics on the I.S.S. It is the depth of meaning in the dialogue and the small moments of doubt and regret in the characters’ faces that really set this movie apart. The theme of an inner struggle between duty and conscience is handled amazingly well while also telling an interesting and thrilling story and it also gives us a glimmer of hope that we can come together as one people.
On the technical side, I marveled at this film in that it felt like it was actually shot in an antigravity environment and the internal details within the set had me (and several others it turns out) wondering if they actually were able to film it in space or on the I.S.S. itself, but the movie’s production crew recreated a replica of the I.S.S. based on research and available footage and the actors were in Harnesses and tethers in order to create the zero gravity effect. Which honestly makes their performances even more spectacular. Ariana DeBose was perfect as the newcomer who has to learn how to survive on the station. She is a bit closed off to people at first, but through clever dialogue, her back story is exposed and gives us clues into why this is. Pilou Asbaek’s Alexey was my favorite character in the film. There is a rough kindness to him, and his subtle facial expressions and body language really highlight the inner turmoil he is going through being trapped between his duty to his brother / country and his own conscience in doing what is right. But to be honest, there was not a weak performance within the film, everyone was perfectly cast.
In 2020 the script for the film was included on the list of most-liked unproduced screenplays and in 2021 it got greenlit by LD Entertainment to go into production. It premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival and in August of that year Bleecker Street acquired the distribution rights with the film hitting theaters in January of 2024. The critical response was mixed with people either loving or hating it. Films speak to each person on varying levels, and not everyone is going to feel the same things, connect the same way to the characters and the themes. This film spoke to me, it made me think while still being entertaining.
One of the best films I have seen so far this year. The inner turmoil between doing what is right and doing what you are ordered is a wonderfully explored theme.
I.S.S.:We Come In Peace, Shoot To Kill
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Acting - 10/1010/10
- Music - 8/108/10
- Production - 10/1010/10
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