Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Mark Strong
I can’t remember who it was who described the formula for a thriller, but it goes something like this: A man is on a crashing plane and the controls are damaged; at the last second he finds a parachute and jumps from the plane, only to find the parachute has a hole, and the emergency chute won’t open; at the last second it opens, only to find himself descending into a pool of ravenous crocodiles…and so on. Obviously, a thriller must subscribe to Murphy’s Law: “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, always in the worst way possible.”
Sunshine subscribes to Bogg’s law: “Murphy was an optimist.”
In the not too distant future, something has gone wrong with the sun – it’s not tanning quite as well as it used to. Science decides to attempt a big middle finger to the forces of the universe by sending a team into space to lay the smack down on that useless ball of gas with its very own, patented, problem resolving multi-tool: A nuke. Now, before you all start groaning and rolling your eyes as the movie decides to just “Hit it with SCIENCE!”, if the sun was actually going out, would you have a better idea? Didn’t think so.
What separates Sunshine from something like, say, Armageddon or The Core, is the verisimilitude with which director Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and writer Garland (28 Days Later) treat this whole show. Acknowledging that liberties have to be taken in order to actually tell a story, the team went to great pains to keep all the technology and theory as close to real world physics as possible. The absolutely stellar cast (and while Murphy is top billed, and rightly so, I reckon it’s the future Captain America who puts in the top performance) carry the ball with conviction – making you believe that these are a bunch of people who have been stuck together in a tin can for months and months on a last-ditch effort to save humanity.
Oh, so many things to go wrong here.
Fortunately for us, the film itself is not one of them. There is a mid-flick turn into horror-thriller territory which feels a little odd, and stretches credulity more than most else in the show, but I consider this a minor gripe. It looks good; it’s paced well; and Captain America’s in it. I DARE you to bad-mouth this to his face.
How To Enjoy It
Run this in the middle of a haunted-ship movie marathon along with Alien and Event Horizon. Then sleep with the lights on.
Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)