Science fiction writer Alex Garland has written some of the most intriguing and interesting scripts in the 21st century. He wrote the script for the hit 2002 film “28 Days Later” which was directed by Danny Boyle and starred Cillian Murphy. Five years later Boyle and Murphy were back for the space drama “Sunshine”. A crew is sent on a mission to save mankind and reignite a dying sun after a previous mission had failed.
The Icarus 2 and its eight member crew are carrying a bomb to launch into the sun in order to save humanity. “Sunshine” is beautifully filmed with absolutely amazing images which are kind of essential for any space film. The fiery golden glow of the sun sparkles throughout the film in an almost hypnotic way. The ship's captain spends a lot of his time in the observation deck in view of the sun which can only be seen at a max of 3.1% of its true brightness. He develops an obsessive curiosity about what it's like at 100%. Like a lot of space travel films, the psychological effects of long term space travel are always present. Cillian Murphy’s character, Robert Capa, is the ship's physician and is responsible for making one the mission's most critical decisions. While the ship passes by Mercury they pick up a transmission from the Icarius 1. The question then becomes do they continue on their current path to the sun or do they go after the Icarius 1 and take their bomb? Two is better than one right? Basically, if they don’t go after the Icarius 1 you have no movie, and he plot stalls out so of course, they decide to go after the extra bomb.
What makes space travel so difficult is the human element, humans are not machines and always fallible. When crew member Kaneda screws up and a bunch of heat shields are burnt up this also causes the ship's oxygen garden and crops to be incinerated. After this, he is mentally destroyed. With their oxygen reserves now extremely low, they don’t have enough to complete their mission. They arrive and dock with the Icarius 1 and find it abandoned. The crew is huddled in the observation room their bodies burnt to a crisp as a result of viewing the sun at full power. They are able to find a garbled video of the ship's captain who has seemingly lost his mind. The ships are then violently undocked leaving four crew members stranded on Icarus 1 with only 1 spacesuit. The spacesuits used in “Sunshine” are very unique as they are completely gold, I guess in order to protect them from the sun. After some creative thinking two members make is back to the Icarus 2, with one having to remain aboard and sacrificing himself and another who didn’t quite make it and floated away into space.
The third act gets a little crazy but is still enjoyable. Like I said before the visuals are amazing and although I never saw the film when it was in theaters I’m sure it would have been even better. All good sci-fi films should leave you with questions about what you have just seen and with a sense of wonder and amazement, “Sunshine” does this.