Europa Report (2013)
Starring Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Christian Camargo, Anamaria Marinca, Karolina Wydra, Daniel Wu, and Embeth Davidtz
Directed by Sebastián Cordero
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***
A six-person international crew is shuttling their way through space on the Europa One mission -- the first manned attempt to go beyond our moon and eventually reach one of Jupiter's moons, Europa, which is believed to contain water and, henceforth, perhaps additional life forms. Much of the crew's privately funded mission has been aired on television, but six months into their flight, a solar flare knocks the crew out of communication with mission control. They continue to proceed (though not without significant consequences) and eventually reach Europa at which point things expectedly take a turn for the worse.
Rather than tell its story in a linear fashion, director Sebastián Cordero and writer Philip Gelatt begin the tale as if we're watching a documentary. We hear Dr. Unger (Embeth Davidtz), the CEO of Europa Ventures, as she narrates the tale of the six person crew. We also hear first-hand narration from pilot Rosa Dasque (Anamaira Marinca) as she relays to us what was happening on board the shuttle while the mission was taking place. With the documentary format and the premise that cameras were strategically placed within the shuttle for the reality tv aspect of the mission, Cordero and Gelatt jump back and forth through time, revealing pieces of the mission gradually. Admittedly, this non-linear gimmick is probably the most disappointing aspect of the film and really is just a ploy to up the tension. Ultimately, it comes back to bite them as the film's final half hour is told linearly and feels a bit "out of place" amongst the rest of the film because of it.
Still, the director gets some nice performances out of all of his cast including District 9's Sharlto Copley and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Michael Nyqvist being the "big names" in the group. The cast of characters is never forced to do anything "stupid" for the sake of the plot and their actions and reactions feel genuine which is a pleasant treat for a movie that so easily could've tried to be a "thriller" or "horror" film. The fact that Europa Report never went that route is quite admirable. It never dumbs down its plot which is more focused on "science" than anything else and I'm sure that's the reason why it never made it out of the ten or so arthouses (if that) where it probably screened.
The RyMickey Rating: B-