Review – I.S.S.

Posted in Film Reviews, Film Reviews 2024, Genre, Scifi, Thriller by - January 17, 2024
Review – I.S.S.

I.S.S. (2023)

R ‧ Thriller ‧ 1 Hour  35 Minutes
Written by Nick Shafir
Directed by  Gabriela Cowperthwaite 


The film stars Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, John Gallagher Jr., Maria Mashkova, Costa Ronin, and Pilou Asbæk.


(In their own words). Tensions flare in the near future aboard the International Space Station when a worldwide conflict breaks out on Earth. Soon, the U.S. and Russian astronauts each receive orders from the ground: take control of the station by any means necessary.


The BEST things about the film

  1. Technical Achievement and Realism in Zero Gravity Simulation: The film excels in its technical prowess, especially in creating a realistic portrayal of zero gravity. The use of wirework and camera movements is first-rate. It’s fascinating how the film manages to make you feel like you’re actually in outer space, with elements floating and characters moving in a weightless environment. This aspect of the film truly enhances the immersive experience.
  2. Tension and Suspense: “I.S.S.” does an outstanding job of building and maintaining tension throughout the movie. As the narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a global conflict and the astronauts receive conflicting orders, the film keeps you at the edge of your seat. The combination of camerawork, dialogue, and acting effectively conveys this tension, making it a gripping thriller.
  3. Engaging and Thought-Provoking Storyline: The plot of “I.S.S.” is thrilling, engaging, and somewhat plausible, adding an extra layer of intrigue. The idea of a conflict breaking out on Earth while astronauts are in space presents a unique scenario that’s both nerve-wracking and thought-provoking. The film explores trust, authority, and human resilience, offering more than surface-level entertainment.
  4. Strong Ensemble Cast Performance: Each actor brings depth to their character, contributing to the overall intensity and believability of the film. Debose’s shift from roles in previous works like “West Side Story” to this space thriller showcases their versatility and talent.


The WORST things about the film

Based on your transcript, the three or four aspects of the film “I.S.S.” that could be considered less favorable are:

  1. Predictability in Certain Plot Elements: While “I.S.S.” manages to keep the audience engaged, some plot elements are predictable. This predictability doesn’t necessarily detract from the film’s overall enjoyment, but it makes certain twists and turns less surprising. As a viewer, I found that even though these predictable moments were present, the film’s thrilling nature allowed me to overlook them most of the time.
  2. Lack of Rewatchability: I mentioned that “I.S.S.” is a solid thriller, but it loses some of its appeal once you know what will happen. The film doesn’t have standout moments or monologues that might draw me back for a second viewing. It’s a good film for a one-time watch, but it might not have the lasting impact that makes you want to revisit it.
  3. Some Liberties with Space Station Realities: “I.S.S.” takes certain creative liberties regarding the practicalities of life on a space station. For instance, the film includes elements that might not be entirely accurate or feasible in an actual space station setting, like the use of sharp objects. While these choices serve the narrative, they might not align with space travel’s real constraints and realities.
  4. Unclear Motivations and Background Logic: There are moments in the film where the motivations behind the conflict and the strategic importance of the space station are not fully explained or convincing. This lack of clarity can leave some viewers questioning the underlying logic of the plot. The film raises the question of why astronauts would fight over a space station that primarily serves as a science lab, leaving some room for speculation about the scenario’s reasons and realism.


Set aboard the International Space Station, tensions rise between U.S. and Russian astronauts as a global conflict erupts on Earth. Orders from their respective governments turn the space station into a strategic battleground, igniting a nerve-wracking power struggle in the void of space.

I found “I.S.S.” to be a compelling departure for Ariana DeBose, who, just before shooting this, dazzled audiences in “West Side Story.” Swapping whimsical dance numbers for the confines of a space station, DeBose and the rest of the cast deliver gripping performances that are accentuated by the film’s impressive technical achievements. The combination of cinematography techniques and the use of wires to simulate zero gravity is particularly noteworthy, creating an immersive and believable outer space environment.

The true strength of “I.S.S.” lies in its ability to maintain tension throughout its runtime. As the astronauts grapple with their orders and the looming threat of war on Earth, the film crafts a suspenseful atmosphere that kept me on the edge of my seat. Although some plot elements are predictable, the overall experience is so engaging that these moments can be easily overlooked.

Despite bending the truth about life aboard a space station for dramatic effect, “I.S.S.” offers an intriguing perspective on current geopolitical tensions, making it feel relevant and unsettlingly possible. The film explores themes of trust, authority, and the human spirit under extreme circumstances, posing thought-provoking questions about our responsibilities beyond Earth.

Regarding rewatchability, “I.S.S.” might not be a film I’d rush to see again, but it’s certainly a solid thriller that’s well worth the price of admission. It’s a film that deserves to be seen on the big screen, where its visual spectacle and immersive storytelling can be fully appreciated.

Overall, “I.S.S.” is a thrilling ride that combines high-stakes drama with a thoughtfully crafted space setting. It’s an excellent choice for a date night movie or anyone who enjoys a good thriller. The film may not be groundbreaking in cinema, but it’s a well-executed, engaging story that deserves a watch.


  1. Trust and Communication are Key: The film highlights the importance of trust and open communication to resolve conflicts, especially under pressure.
  2. Question Authority and Consider the Bigger Picture: “I.S.S.” encourages viewers to think critically about the orders they receive and the broader implications of their actions, emphasizing the need for ethical decision-making even in complex situations.


Yes, but don’t expect it to repeat its thrill.  


“Space, suspense, and stellar performances! ‘I.S.S.’ takes you on a thrilling ride aboard the International Space Station, where tensions soar as high as the stakes. With impressive zero-gravity effects and a gripping plot, this film keeps you on the edge of your seat. Sure, it has predictable moments and might not be a rewatch classic, but it’s a fantastic one-time journey into a plausible space scenario. Whether for a heart-pounding date night or to indulge in some sci-fi suspense, ‘I.S.S.’ delivers a cosmic adventure worth the ticket!”


My 3L system gives me the choice to Love It, Like It, or Lose It. 

I.S.S. gets a strong like it. It’s a film that successfully delivers tension, entertainment, and a bit of introspection, all wrapped up in a high-tech space adventure.



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When he’s not reviewing films or interviewing people for the Black & A Half podcast, Silas Lindenstein can be found in the greater metro Seattle, WA working as a real estate agent helping people buy and sell homes, or performing stand up comedy to fellow nerds. He has a wife and three children and desperately wants to learn to make the perfect homemade pizza.

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