★★☆☆☆ Dir Lennart Ruff Starring Sam Worthington, Taylor Schilling, Tom Wilkinson Length 95 mins Cert 15
Not a bad idea, this. But where it could have delivered a mounting sense of dread, crowned with horror, the film seems concerned to hedge its bets by balancing the disturbing stuff with a feelgood drama about a family pulling together. It’s a sci-fi mystery thriller, distributed by Netflix and directed by feature first-timer Lennart Ruff, based on an original story idea by screenwriter Arash Amel.
We are some decades in the future; overpopulation and ecological calamity have made Earth uninhabitable, and our only chance for survival is to send some hardy pioneers to Titan, a moon of Saturn with an atmosphere in which homo sapiens could conceivably survive with the right genetic modifications. Sam Worthington plays Lt Rick Janssen, a tough military man who has volunteered for the topsecret medical programme, Taylor Schilling plays his wife, Abi, and Noah Jupe is their son, Lucas. Tom Wilkinson plays the careworn Professor Collingwood, who is masterminding this last-chance scheme for Humanity 2.0.
At first, Rick and his family are pretty thrilled by the luxurious LA-style home they are allowed to occupy for the programme’s duration, and this is interestingly presented. But as Rick and his fellow guinea pigs undergo a brutal drugs regimen, it becomes progressively clear that they have not been told everything about what is happening to them. It is the kind of sci-fi drama in which the point is not interplanetary space travel, it is all about the tension and conspiracy on the home front. But it should lead somewhere dramatically, and this is anticlimactic. PB