Despite a generic title and trailers that felt fairly derivative, the new sci-fi horror thriller Life, from director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Snabba Cash, Child 44), takes its familiar genre ingredients and twists them just enough, never overstaying its welcome at a brisk hour and 40 minutes, and provides some solid late winter entertainment that arrives with a considerable mean streak running through its R-rated bones. Gorgeously shot by master cinematographer Seamus McGarvey and featuring a particularly awesome musical score by Jon Ekstrand, the beautifully designed film opens with a nearly 10 minute single-take opening shot stunner, before all hell breaks loose on an international space station that’s doing some potentially dangerous testing on the first alien life-form found on Mars. The trailers have done a very good job of hiding many of the film’s most explosive moments, so I’m hesitant to say much more than I already have, and while not mind-blowing, this is the sort of bluntly effective genre entertainment that gets the job done. Everyone in the sturdy cast sells the material like pros, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson doing the heaviest of the lifting, while the final moments kick the movie up a full notch on the overall enjoyment scale. This is a surprisingly ruthless and effective piece of outer-space nastiness, with a killer of a finish.



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