“Sunshine,” the latest genre jump (this time into Sci-Fi) by director Danny Boyle, takes place fifty years into the future where the sun is burning out. The world is desolate and cold but hope is on the horizon as the international crew of the “Icarus 2” has been sent to detonate a bomb in the sun that will hopefully reignite our nearest star. “Icarus 1” was sent out a few years back to do the job, but they went missing. We catch up with the new crew as they’re a few days away from reaching their destination.
Alex Garland’s script is air-tight, at least the first three quarters of it is. Perfect character development in terms of big personalities and diverse presences lead to some great conflicts onboard the ship. I mean, if you can’t stand being around your co-workers eight hours a day, five days a week, imagine being stuck in a spaceship with them for a few years. Also played perfectly is the domino effect that a major crew decision has on the mission as well as the people involved. Without giving much away, the crew thinks they’ve found the original Icarus vessel and the decision they make in terms of what to do about that is finely teased out as a discussion of empathy over discipline. Heart over duty. The chain reaction that follows is near perfect…until the last forty-five minutes or so of the film.
At this point, what started as a taut, psychological, science-fiction thriller takes an ill-advised turn into something really pretty stupid. “Sunshine” has been out in theaters in the UK for a few months and the aforementioned plot twist has been the glaring sore spot for those who have seen the film. I had heard the film takes a sudden turn for the worst but I was determined to see if this really was the case. Unfortunately, it is very much the case.
However Danny Boyle still creates an impressive world, visually rich and yet cold and claustrophobic. There’s some truly awesome shots and unforgettable sequences as well. Something Boyle has become synonymous with. And as I said, the characters are set-up and played perfectly off of one another and the acting is solid. It was nice to see Chris Evans in a role that isn’t the “Human Torch” and Rose Byrne continues to silently speak volumes through her wet, doe eyes. Cillian Murphy is also great (as always) and I loved the way the cast featured Asians, Brits, Americans and a Middle Easterner without drawing attention to the fact that (gasp!) sometimes people of varying race and skin color coexist. But gosh darn it…why does the movie decide to veer totally off course and ruin what could have been a true return to the classic mind-fuck Sci-Fi movie? Frustrating to say the least.