David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, wrote this story, specifically for actor Sam Rockwell who stars as Sam Bell, a lone astronaut in the future who operates a lunar mining base. An accident reveals an insidious plot that threatens the astronaut's sanity, as well as his life, in this eerie, sci-fi thriller.
Like with Tom Hanks in Cast Away (2000), John Cusack in 1408 (2007) and Will Smith in I Am Legend (2007), Rockwell spends the movie mostly alone. Like with Hanks, Cusack and Smith, it takes a really good and charming actor to pull being solo on screen for an hour and a half.
Rockwell is that actor. I have been a champion of his, since I first recall seeing him in The Green Mile (1999) and his first, notable, leading role in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002). Now, with this film, Rockwell proves he can be the sole reason I love a movie.
Duncan Jones directs this mystery, which obviously takes its queue from Stanley Kubrick's standout, space odyssey, and helps to create this creepy environment that doesn't have the typical thrills. Rockwell's character does start to hallucinate, but it's not about scary things suddenly appearing or jumping out at him.
This film is about a quiet tension that delicately builds and a sad reality that slowly must be accepted, and accepting reality, which can sometimes be the scariest thing of all, is an underlying force.
Kevin Spacey plays the voice of Gerty, the computer companion. Jones could have gone the evil computer route but doesn't. Despite the mechanized coldness of it, this film remains a warm human story, not really man versus technology, or what lately has become man versus CGI, a la Transformers.
In a simple, visual statement, Jones expresses excellently a message of existence. This is not a question of God or anything overly philosophical. It's not even a study on the effects of loneliness. Rod Serling already did that study. This film merely begs to know what drives a man.
As far as identity, what makes the man who he is? What does he want to know? What does he need to know? Can he live by one single truth? Like with The Twilight Zone, this is more about understanding a particular character, and, with Rockwell at the helm, this is one where you'll want to be lost in space with him.
Five Stars out of Five
Rated R for language
Running Time: 1 hr. and 37 mins.