Life (2017 film)

Life is a 2017 American sci-fi horror film directed by Daniel Espinosa, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds. The film follows a six-member crew of the International Space Station that uncovers the first evidence of life on Mars.

Life (2017 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Espinosa
Produced by
Written by
Music byJon Ekstrand
CinematographySeamus McGarvey
Edited by
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing[2]
Release date
  • March 18, 2017 (2017-03-18) (SXSW)
  • March 24, 2017 (2017-03-24) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$58–62 million[4][5]
Box office$100.5 million[4]

The first co-production between Skydance Media and Sony Pictures, the film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 18, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on March 24, 2017. It received mixed reviews, with praise for its acting, visuals and screenplay, but some criticism for its lack of originality. The film grossed $100 million worldwide.


In the near future, the unmanned Pilgrim 7 space probe returns from Mars to Earth orbit with soil samples potentially containing evidence of extraterrestrial life. The probe is captured and its samples retrieved by the International Space Station and its six-member crew. Exobiologist Hugh Derry revives a dormant cell from the sample, which quickly grows into a multi-celled organism that American school children name "Calvin." Hugh realizes that Calvin's cells can change their specialization, acting as muscle, neuron, and photosensory cells all at once.

An accident in the lab causes Calvin to become dormant. Hugh attempts to revive it with electric shocks, but Calvin immediately becomes hostile and attacks Hugh, crushing his right hand. While Hugh lies unconscious from Calvin's attack, Calvin uses Hugh's electric shock tool to escape its enclosure. Now free in the laboratory, Calvin devours a lab rat by absorbing it, growing in size. Engineer Rory Adams enters the lab to rescue Hugh, but gets locked in by fellow crew member and physician David Jordan to keep Calvin contained after it latches onto Rory's leg. He fights Calvin off by burning it with an exposed element from a handheld light before unsuccessfully attacking with an incinerator. Calvin retaliates by entering his mouth and devouring his organs from the inside, killing him. Emerging from Rory's mouth three times its previous size, Calvin escapes through a fire-control vent that had been set off.

Finding their communication with Earth was cut off due to the communication systems overheating, ISS commander Ekaterina Golovkina performs a space walk to find and fix the problem. She discovers that Calvin has breached the ISS' cooling system. Soon after, Calvin attacks her, rupturing her spacesuit's coolant system in the process and causing the coolant itself to fill her suit. She blindly makes her way back to the airlock, but she and the crew realize that if she re-enters, Calvin will also be able to re-enter the ISS. As such, she refuses to open the hatch and stops David from helping her do so; keeping Calvin out for the time being while she drowns in her spacesuit.

Calvin attempts to re-enter the station through its maneuvering thrusters. The crew try to fire them to blast it away, but their attempts fail after they use too much fuel and cause the ISS to enter a decaying orbit, where it will burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Pilot Sho Murakami informs the crew that they need to use the station's remaining fuel to get back into a safe orbit even though it will allow Calvin to re-enter. The crew plan to make Calvin dormant by sealing themselves into one module and venting the atmosphere from the rest of the station.

After the crew finalize preparations to do so, Hugh enters cardiac arrest before they discover Calvin had been feeding off Hugh's leg before it attacks them. Sho seals himself in a sleeping pod. As Calvin tries to break its glass, David and quarantine officer Miranda North use Hugh's corpse as bait to lure it away from Sho and trap it in another module to deprive it of oxygen. Having received a distress call prior to the ISS' communication systems being damaged, Earth sends a Soyuz spacecraft as a fail-safe to push the station into deep space. Believing the Soyuz to be on a rescue mission for them, Sho leaves his pod and moves to board it, forcing open its hatch. Calvin attacks him and the Soyuz cosmonauts, destroying the craft's docking mechanisms and causing the capsule to crash into the ISS; killing Sho and the cosmonauts and causing the ISS' orbit to decay again.

The remaining survivors, David and Miranda, speculate that Calvin could survive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, so they plan to lure Calvin into one of the ISS' two escape pods. Once inside, David will manually pilot Calvin's pod into deep space, isolating it and allowing Miranda to return to Earth in the other pod. Their plan initially works, but as they undock, one of the pods is hit with debris and knocked off-course. Calvin attacks David as he struggles to execute his part of the plan while Miranda records a black box message in case of her death; informing the world of her colleagues' deaths, not to trust Calvin nor any extraterrestrial life from Mars, and to destroy it at any cost should it get to Earth.

The two pods separate, one earthbound, the other spiraling away from Earth. The former splashes down in the ocean, where two nearby Vietnamese fishermen retrieve it. As they look inside, they find David restrained by Calvin after it had grown to fill the space inside. Meanwhile, Miranda's pod's navigation system fails due to damage sustained from the debris, sending her flying away from Earth out of control, much to her horror. On Earth, despite David's attempts to warn them, the fishermen open the pod's hatch as more boats arrive on the scene.



On November 18, 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that Daniel Espinosa would direct a film set in space and titled Life, from a script from Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, which Skydance Media financing and producing, with David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Bonnie Curtis, and Julie Lynn.[13] Paramount Pictures was circling to handle the distribution rights to the film, though the deal was not confirmed.[13] On January 28, 2016, Rebecca Ferguson came on board to star in the film,[14] and Ryan Reynolds subsequently joined, on February 16, 2016.[15] On March 10, 2016, Jake Gyllenhaal was cast in the film.[16] On March 15, 2016, Sony Pictures signed on to handle the worldwide distribution rights and co-finance the film, with Skydance.[17] On June 23, 2016, Hiroyuki Sanada was cast to play one of the members of the International Space Station crew,[18] and on July 19, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Olga Dihovichnaya and Ariyon Bakare were also cast in the film, playing other crew members.[19] One scene in the trailer for the film features a recycled shot from the 2007 film, Spider-Man 3.[20]

Principal photography on the film began at London's Shepperton Studios on July 19, 2016.[19] To emulate the lack of gravity, the actors were suspended by wires that wound up erased in post-production. Most of the visual effects were handled by Double Negative,[21] aside from the eight-minute long take that opens the movie, done by Industrial Light & Magic using the ISS model sculpted by Double Negative.[22] That scene was described by Daniel Espinosa as "the inverse version of Gravity. Gravity looks at the vastness of space through the oner. I wanted to look at the claustrophobia."[23] Espinosa said that Life was "shot to make a science fiction movie that ties into this other great American genre, which is noir", with the death of the most charismatic character that seems to be the protagonist—using Psycho as an example, Espinosa explained that "Ryan [Reynolds] became my Janet Leigh"—and a downer ending.[23]

Composer Jon Ekstrand wrote his sixth score while working with Espinosa. Ekstrand aimed to create an "atonal-horror score with some melodic elements", mostly focused on orchestral music while opening with "more melodic and classical cinematic" tones to not give away the horror trappings early on.[24] Espinosa specifically told Ekstrand to seek a sound reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann, with some influence from György Ligeti to reference the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey.[23]


Life was released by Columbia Pictures on March 24, 2017, after being moved up from its previously announced release date of May 26, 2017, to avoid competition with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Alien: Covenant, the latter of which had moved up its release date from August 4, 2017 to May 19, 2017.[25][26] Life had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 18, 2017.[27]


In March 2017, it was noted that stock footage of a crowd reacting to Spider-Man catching Gwen Stacy from Spider-Man 3's B-roll was used in a trailer for Life.[28] This announcement led to theories that Life was secretly an origin story for the symbiote featured in Spider-Man 3,[29][30][31] a theory made more popular by the announcement of a Venom film for 2018 the day after the story broke, and that Life's screenwriters, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, had previously written a Venom script.[32][33] When asked about the rumour in a Collider interview, Daniel Espinosa confirmed that that comic books such as Venom had been an influence on the film, refusing to comment on a potential connection. Espinosa would later direct Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters film and Venom follow-up Morbius, which featured Easter eggs in reference to Life.[34] Jake Gyllenhaal would later portray the villain Mysterio in the 2019 Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: Far From Home.


Box officeEdit

Life grossed $30.2 million in the United States and Canada and $70.3 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $100.5 million, against a production budget of $58 million.[4]

In North America, Life opened alongside Power Rangers, CHiPs, and Wilson, and was projected to gross $12–17 million from 3,146 theaters during its opening weekend.[35] It ended up debuting to $12.6 million, finishing 4th at the box office, behind Beauty and the Beast, Power Rangers, and Kong: Skull Island.[36] In its second weekend, the film grossed $5.5 million, dropping to 8th at the box office.[37]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 67% based on 237 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Life is just thrilling, well-acted, and capably filmed enough to overcome an overall inability to add new wrinkles to the trapped-in-space genre."[38] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on reviews from 44 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[39] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale,[40] while PostTrak reported just 48% of audience members gave the film a "definite recommend".[36]

Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal said of the film, "For all its flashy trappings, weighty ruminations and zero-gravity floatings aboard the International Space Station, Life turns out to be another variant of Alien, though without the grungy horror and grim fun. In space no one can hear you snore."[41] Describing the theme of outer space, Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times said "As the astronauts contend with airlocks, busted equipment and escape pods, it becomes increasingly difficult to pretend that this isn't territory where more inventive screenwriters and stronger visual stylists have gone before."[42] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone faulted not the scenes but the performances, saying there was "not a single actor in Life who manages to fill in and humanize the blank space where a character should be."[43]

Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post approved of these character flaws, saying the "conflicting dynamics of their individual temperaments lead occasionally to poor decision-making. While this may be bad for their health, it's great for the movie," adding that "Life has cool effects, real suspense and a sweet twist. It ain't rocket science, but it does what it does well—even, one might say, with a kind of genius."[44] Richard Brody of The New Yorker complimented this balance of character and plot from the director, saying "Espinosa's sense of drama is efficient, familiar, and narrow; if there's a moral sentiment to his direction, it's precisely in the limits that he imposes on the movie's dose of pain and gore."[45] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times opined that Life, with a mise-en-scène of the International Space Station, was "a wonderful setting for a meal we've tasted before," adding that it is "undeniably satisfying to be in the hands of a persuasive director who knows how to slowly ratchet up the tension to a properly unnerving level."[46]

Empire summarized their review as "Part Alien, part Gravity, just not as good as either of them. But Life whips along at a decent pace and deploys enough engaging action sequences to make it work."[47]


List of accolades
Award / film festival Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
16th Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project Tom Edwards, Chaitanya Kshirsagar, Satish Kuttan, Paresh Dodia for "The ISS" Nominated [48]
44th Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Film Life Nominated [49]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Film Releases". Variety Insight. Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  2. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (March 23, 2017). "Review: In 'Life,' Extraterrestrial Fun, Until Someone Gets Hurt". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "Life (SXSW 2017 Schedule)". South by Southwest. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Life (2017)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  5. ^ "2017 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. August 8, 2018: Page 24. Retrieved August 9, 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Weitering, Hanneke (March 23, 2017). "'Life' Star Jake Gyllenhaal Fears No Aliens". Purch. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  7. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (March 23, 2017). "How Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson went from 'Mission: Impossible' scene-stealer to the star of 'Life'". Business Insider. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  8. ^ Schager, Nick (June 19, 2017). "Ryan Reynolds' Astronaut Reveals Childhood Dreams in 'Life' Bonus Clip". Yahoo! Entertainment. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  9. ^ Baila, Morgan (March 24, 2017). "Can We Talk About Ryan Reynolds' Story Line In Life?". Refinery29. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Hughes, Mark (April 14, 2017). "'Life' Star Hiroyuki Sanada Talks Sci-Fi, Horror, And 'Venom' Sequel Potential". Forbes. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  11. ^ Bakare, Ariyon (March 30, 2017). "Ariyon Bakare: The meaning of Life". The Week. Felix Dennis. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  12. ^ Shaw-Williams, Hannah (January 23, 2017). "Life Character Breakdown: Meet the Astronauts". Screen Rant. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Jaafar, Ali (November 18, 2015). "Daniel Espinosa To Direct 'Life' For David Ellison's Skydance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  14. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 28, 2016). "Rebecca Ferguson to Star in Skydance's Sci-fi Pic 'Life' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  15. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (February 16, 2016). "'Deadpool' Star Ryan Reynolds Orbiting Mars Mission Thriller 'Life' For Skydance Productions". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  16. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 10, 2016). "Jake Gyllenhaal Joins Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson in 'Life' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  17. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (March 15, 2016). "Sony To Co-Fi, Distrib Skydance Mars Pic 'Life;' Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson Star". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  18. ^ Pedersen, Erik (June 24, 2016). "Taylor John Smith Dives Into 'Hunter Killer'; Hiroyuki Sanada Gets 'Life'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  19. ^ a b Kit, Borys (July 19, 2016). "Jake Gyllenhaal Sci-Fi Thriller 'Life' Adds Two". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  20. ^ Alexander, Julia (March 14, 2017). "Spider-Man 3 footage is being used in the trailer for the upcoming space movie, Life". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  21. ^ Frei, Vincent (April 26, 2017). "LIFE: Huw Evans – VFX Supervisor – Double Negative". Art of VFX. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  22. ^ Frei, Vincent (April 25, 2017). "LIFE: Mark Bakowski – VFX Supervisor – Industrial Light & Magic". Art of VFX. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  23. ^ a b c Couch, Aaron (March 25, 2017). "'Life' Director on the Ending He Insisted Couldn't Be Changed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Chamboredon, JC (March 24, 2017). "6 questions with Jon Ekstrand – composer of LIFE". Milan Records. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  25. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 6, 2016). "Warner Bros. Makes 2017 Date Changes To 'King Arthur', 'CHiPS', 'Annabelle 2' & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  26. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 19, 2016). "Seth Rogen-Bill Hader-Zach Galifianakis Astronaut Comedy Moves Off Release Schedule". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  27. ^ McNary, Dave (February 22, 2017). "Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds' Space Thriller 'Life' to Close SXSW". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  28. ^ The New Life Trailer Is Terrifying, Partially Because It Has Spider-Man 3 Footage In It
  29. ^ Identical shots from Life and Spider-Man 3.
  30. ^ Marvel Fans Are Hoping 'Life' Is a Surprise Venom Movie
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ [2]
  33. ^ Sony Just Randomly Announced a Venom Movie Will Be Out Next Year (UPDATED) - Comment Section
  34. ^ Weintraub, Steve 'Frosty' (March 18, 2017). "'Life' Director Addresses Those 'Venom' Prequel Rumors". Collider. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  35. ^ Fuster, Jeremy (March 21, 2017). "Can 'Power Rangers' Slay Disney's 'Beast' at the Box Office?". TheWrap. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  36. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 26, 2017). "Family-Branded Films On Fire At The B.O.: 'Beauty And The Beast' Embraces $81M; 'Power Rangers' Mighty With $42M+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  37. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 2, 2017). "'Boss Baby' Cleans 'Beauty And The Beast's Clock With $51M+ Opening; 'Ghost' Shell-Shocked At $20M+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  38. ^ "Life (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  39. ^ "Life Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  40. ^ @CinemaScore (March 24, 2017). "The grade is IN! @LifeMovie received a C+ #cinemascore grade." (Tweet). Retrieved April 10, 2017 – via Twitter.
  41. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (March 23, 2017). "'Life' Review: From a Single Cell, Growth and Regression". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  42. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (March 23, 2017). "Review: In 'Life,' Extraterrestrial Fun, Until Someone Gets Hurt". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  43. ^ Travers, Peter (March 23, 2017). "'Life' Review: This A-List 'Alien' Rip-Off Is Seriously D.O.A." Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  44. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (March 23, 2017). "'Life' is no picnic for a crew of astronauts, but a real treat for the audience". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  45. ^ Brody, Richard (March 24, 2017). ""Life" Is Full of Horrors". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  46. ^ Turan, Kenneth (March 24, 2017). "'Alien' Haunts Outer Space Thriller 'Life'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  47. ^ Pile, Jonathan (March 21, 2017). "Life (2017) Review". Empire Online. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  48. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 16, 2018). "Visual Effects Society Awards: 'Apes,' 'Blade Runner 2049' Lead Feature Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  49. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

External linksEdit