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[Tribeca ’23] ‘I.S.S.’ review: Sci-fi thriller keeps tensions high

By any means necessary.

I.S.S is a tense science-fiction thriller making its World Premiere at the Tribeca Festival. American and Russian scientists work together on the International Space Station. When tensions escalate between the two countries below, a message is relayed. Take control of the station at all costs.

The tightly wound storytelling begins in the opening moments and never lets up. Using musical cues and off center camera angles, Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite never dials down the suspense. There is the constant feeling that something is wrong. I.S.S. is the rare case where lack of character development does not hurt the film.

As I.S.S. progresses the distrust between the scientists becomes more palatable and paranoia soon begins to overtake the group. The bond is already a tenuous one – a conversation about German rock band the Scorpions becomes heated – but the events below push emotions over the edge. Things move at a methodical pace which allows for uneasiness to creep over everything that is happening.

Even when the film begins to reveal more, there is still an air of uncertainty. Every word becomes suspect and there is no telling what is and is not the truth. The twists and turns of the third act are well done and includes a number of dramatic showdowns.

The space station makes for a claustrophobic setting. Early on, Kira (Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose) is shown her cramped sleeping quarters. This has the dual effect of visually showing the tiny area while also giving an idea to the difficulties the inhabitants have to deal with. Once outside of their “bedrooms”, the crew is still left to navigate narrow corridors with only blue bars and footholds to help deal with the lack of gravity. The inability to move normally increases the apprehensive mood.

[Tribeca '23] 'I.S.S.' review: Sci-fi thriller keeps tensions high

I.S.S. is a character driven thriller that is impossible to look away from. The futuristic setting is paired with a toned down look that pulls audiences into the movie’s orbit. The astronauts and cosmonauts end up serving as little more than avatars to showcase the indecisiveness and cruelty that is inherent among all humans.

Tribeca Festival takes place June 7 -18. All films and events can be found HERE 

i.s.s.
[Tribeca ’23] ‘I.S.S.’ review: Sci-fi thriller keeps tensions high
I.S.S.
The tension begins early and only increases as things continue. Each character serves as examples of what humans can - and will - do.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Great camerawork that highlights the claustrophobia while occasionally showing beautiful shots of the planet below
Pacing keeps story engaging
Shallow characters
8
Good

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