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Written By:

Paul Mount

It’s not hard to work out why I.S.S. – that’s International Space Station to you – belly-flopped at the US box office. Given the world’s current geopolitical situation, this isn’t really the time to ask a cinema audience – especially an American one – to engage with a film in which Russians and Americans are working together and are actually quite pally. It’s a shame because I.S.S. is a decent, taut space adventure thriller that uses its unusual and claustrophobic setting to ask simple questions about who we can trust when the chips are down and, in this case, the world is burning.

NASA astronaut/former marine Kira Foster (Ariana DeBose) arrives at the ISS to join her two fellow Americans and the three Russians already aboard conducting scientific experiments. Despite their cultural and language differences, they seem to rub along together well. Everything changes when Kira notices several huge and clearly nuclear explosions flowering across the world’s surface down below. America has suffered a devastating Russian attack, and both sides on the station receive instructions to secure the ISS – also in a low orbit and in danger of plunging from the skies – “by any means necessary”.

It’s quite a dilemma – and one that plays out rather well across the film’s tight 95 minutes. Attempts to maintain a status quo aboard the ISS quickly fall away, and before long, Kira is fighting to maintain order as crew members on both sides act on the instructions they’ve received.  Tense and compelling – one scene in which an American on an EVA discusses his and Kira’s love lives as the world turns bright red beneath them is an unnecessary and misjudged attempt to give the characters some emotional heft – ISS is a superior slice of sci-fi drama that definitely doesn’t deserve to be lost in space.


I.S.S. is still on general release in the USA and is awaiting a UK release.

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