Reel Reviews | Stowaway

By Charles Kirkland Jr.

A trip to Mars gets an extra rider in the sci-fi drama, Stowaway.

MTS is on a two-year roundtrip to Mars.  After twelve hours into the flight, the three-person crew discovers an injured black man in the service area of the module.  The man is determined to be a repairman who fell and got trapped in the ship.  After another mishap is found, it is discovered that their unexpected passenger is a threat to the completion of the mission.  Can the crew overcome the threat and succeed in their mission?

Stowaway was written by Joe Penna and Ryan Morrison and is the second directorial effort of Joe Penna.  It stars Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, and Toni Collette. 

While the movie may sound like a sci-fi thriller, it is really a dramatic character study as the four debate moral issues and struggles to find a solution to the situation in which they find themselves.  Debate is a strong word though as the movie focuses more on silent interactions and its pulse-pounding score.  The movie has a thrilling scene of action that is wrapped in long pauses of contemplative nothingness and falls into a depressing denouement that neither satisfies or satiates.  Stowaway is the antithesis of a typical space disaster movie like Apollo 13 where the crew shouts and yells and argues to find a solution.  This movie is much more…quiet and calm.  Captain Marina Barnett (Collette) is the reserved leader who speaks in calm tones even when debating with HARP command which cannot even be heard by the audience.

This movie could easily be confused as boring.  With movies like Interstellar and Apollo 13 and even The Martian setting the bar high for action and drama in these types of movies, something can be said for a rational, calm, and pensive type of story.  Each one of these actors, Collette, Kendrick, Kim, and Anderson, are very strong actors, fulfilling a story that is mature and thoughtful where each one of them is equal in thought and deed.  This is not the type of movie that American audiences usually appreciate.  It is not loud and boisterous or filled with over-the-top acting.  It is soft and contemplative and respectful and portrayed perfectly by all involved.

Kudos go to Youtube sensation, Joe Penna who has crafted a subtle gem that is beautiful to watch, dramatic, and poignant.  It’s not what is expected but it is what is needed.  Through all the shouting and complaining about Black Lives Matter, it is refreshing to see a movie where a black man is actually important and actually does matter.

Rated TV-MA for mild profanity and frightening and intense scenes, Stowaway is an unconventional, dramatic, sci-fi thriller.  It is not for the faint of heart or for those who want slam-bang action but it works well in telling a story that is honest and sad and visually stunning. 

Stowaway is available on Netflix. 

Grade:  B