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I. S. S.

Updated: Feb 17

An interesting concept that never quite engages, I.S.S. details what would happen aboard the International Space Station should nuclear war break out on Earth.

Makes you think, right?

Unfortunately, this wanna be thriller never really deals with the questions at hand beyond the level of a basic whodunit.

You could change the action to a cruise ship with a mixed American and Russian crew, or a board room stacked with equal measure from each country and the story would remain the same.

Oscar Winner Ariana DeBose stars as Dr. Kira Foster, the rookie scientist just arrived at the orbiting station.

Her Russian is decent and her social skills fair as she tries to acclimate.

Fellow American, Christian (John Gallagher Jr.) is returning to the station with gifts for his Russian friends. Gordon Barrett (John Messina) is the commanding American on duty.

Nicholai Pulov (Costa Ronin) leads the Russian team, but Kira bonds much more quickly with the gentler Doctor Alexy (Pilou Asbaek). Her quickest friend on the Russian team is Veronika, well played by Masha Mashkova from Apple TV's "For All Mankind".

Soon after the team of six settle into their normal daily duties, Kira sees a fireball on the surface of Earth, and then another, and then too many to count. This should be a powerful moment in the film, but the special effects are just okay, kind of routine, so we never really feel any moment of astonishment.

As both commanders get messages from the ground to seize control of the station, our six players spinoff in predictable directions. Paranoid, desperate, dazed, hopeful, crazy and murderous would describe our choices.

Bonds are formed, not always along national lines, but who can they really trust?

DeBose, so powerful in Spielberg's 'West Side Story" remake isn't given enough to do as Kira. The writer and director have a Ferrari in DeBose and they never let her out of first gear. She deserves better, or at least a better agent.

Mashkova and Asbaek make a solid impression as well.

But the intriguing premise is wasted on small screen level confrontations and predictable behaviors. No one seems to understand or act like they might be the last people left alive.

The ending, which I wont discuss here, is an incredible cop out, leaving you rolling your eyes at the fade-out. "Sopranos last episode, anyone?

Without any science fiction to leave you dazzled, special effects that feel special in any way or twists deserving of it's game cast, I.S.S. left me wondering, Is that all there I.S.S.?

I'll float it a C-.

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