For the bulk of Anna Kendrick’s feature film career, the 35-year-old actress has pretty much remained in a specific lane. Light-hearted, fun, romantic, musically inclined, and on a few occasions, a step into the wild side of the Twilight saga. Never before has the actress ventured into science fiction, but that recently changed with her Netflix film Stowaway.
Stowaway is a very claustrophobic film starring four solid actors. Anna Kendrick is Zoe Levenson, a medical researcher on a spaceship heading to Mars. Toni Collette boards the spaceship as its commander, Marina Barnett with Daniel Dae Kim the ship’s biologist David Kim. Also on the ship is the crux of the problem, Shamier Anderson as Michael Adams, the launch support engineer who somehow gets trapped aboard the spaceship before takeoff.
Once Michael’s unfortunate situation is apparent, the crew immediately knows they have to turn back home. Michael is distraught at the thought of having to spend two years in space and being separated from his younger sister, with whom he’s her sole guardian. Unfortunately for Michael and the crew, they are informed it is impossible to turn back.
Michael finally calms, turning a negative into a positive by helping the crew with various duties around the ship. Then life goes from bad to truly bad. Michael accidentally damages a vital carbon dioxide scrubber. With four passengers instead of three, the crew no realizes that they won’t have enough oxygen to survive their two-year mission.
The film turns into a morality play at this point when David begins the philosophical debate in deciding what Michael should do. David argues, reasonably, that Michael should sacrifice himself for the sake of the crew’s survival. Zoe, on the other hand, makes the passionate plea that they must look for every imaginable solution, so Michael won’t have to sacrifice himself.
The premise and setup work. Director Joe Penna, who also co-wrote the script with Ryan Morrison, has laid out a simple scenario with a complex solution. One would expect thrills and chills from this space exploring morality tale but what we get instead is a slow, plodding, quite talkative piece. It’s this slow pace that has, initially, turned off the critics, though not by a large amount.
Currently, the Anna Kendrick film, which just hit the Netflix streamer, sits at a remarkably positive 68% favorable rating with Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the negative comments come from Barry Hertz from Globe and Mail who says, “In space, no one can hear you scream. But watching Stowaway, there’s a good chance that you’ll hear muffled cries of frustration. They’ll be coming from inside the house.” Bill Goodykoontz from the Arizona Republic takes issue with Penna’s pacing, “Even at nearly two hours, Stowaway feels rushed, particularly toward the end. It’s a matter of pacing and choices, what Penna chooses to focus on and what he ignores.”
Anna Kendrick first began to open eyes when she starred in the first of what would become known as the Twilight saga. She played Jessica in all five movies, which led the actress into more comedic affairs such as Pitch Perfect (and its two sequels), Drinking Buddies, Mr. Right, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. When it comes to comedy with a tinge of romance, Anna Kendrick has got that on lockdown.
But along with the Twilight series, Anna Kendrick has also been in her fair share of thrillers as she co-starred with Ben Affleck in The Accountant, while also appearing in Life After Beth, and A Simple Favor.
Lately, though, Anna Kendrick has also found a bit of time on the television side of the ledger. She voiced Jane on the Facebook Watch series Human Discoveries. She was also part of the Quibi series Dummy as Cody while also serving as the series’ executive producer. Most recently, Kendrick starred in the HBO Max romantic comedy series Love Life.
Anna Kendrick looks to continue to shake things up with her next role in Unsound, where she plays a state trooper who is dealing with irreversible hearing loss while at the same time investigating the prison break of a notorious gang leader. Her investigation is going to lead her into a life-threatening conspiracy which she will have to contend with while her hearing continues to worsen. There is no release date on the film.
Until then, go find Anna Kendrick’s Stowaway on Netflix and let us know if the critics have it right or if, like many times, they are just blowin’ smoke.