I.S.S. Parent Guide
This isn't a bad film, but it's a little too familiar; a little too closely tied to genre tropes.
Parent Movie Review
The International Space Station is 450,000 kilograms of delicate equipment, orbiting the planet at over seven and a half kilometers per second, and home to a mixed crew of American and Russian scientists. Its newest arrival, Dr. Kira Foster (Ariana DeBose), plans to spend her time in orbit running an experiment on lab mice that could vastly improve medical care back on the ground. But her plans to make life better are soon blown away by events that make everyone’s life much worse – including hers.
When the crew spot nuclear explosions down on Earth, they scramble to get answers from their respective nations, and both receive the same orders: Seize the station. By any means necessary. The crew has a longstanding agreement not to let politics get in the way of the science…but the situation has changed. Each and every person aboard the I.S.S. is going to have to decide where their loyalties lie - with their nation, or with their crew.
Given the current geopolitical situation (i.e. war between Russia and Ukraine), I don’t imagine this plot offers a fun thought exercise for the astro- and cosmonauts currently aboard the I.S.S. It’s certainly an interesting premise, and one that affords plenty of opportunity for excitement or introspection, depending on how you want to handle the story. Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t quite live up to the concept. It’s not bad, and I don’t want to give you the impression that I hated the film. The problem is the gulf between what it could have been and what it is. It’s just a little too familiar, a little too reliant on the familiar – even in an inherently unfamiliar environment.
I’m particularly disappointed that the space station environment, despite its titular preeminence, was a little underutilized. Sure, the entire film is set within its confines, but the station itself is rather less involved than you might think. Astronauts and cosmonauts spend more time floating around after each other with screwdrivers or having tense conversations in the crew bunks than anything else, and I just don’t think that builds narrative excitement. On a station like that, without ground support, there are plenty of things that can kill you quickly. Your crewmates are just a few of them.
Despite its R-rating, this film isn’t nearly as graphic as I would have expected it to be. That said, there is some hand-to-hand violence and a little bit of blood. There’s also rather less cussing than I anticipated, which is surprising given the context. You’re also going to see some social and stress-related drinking, although only about two scenes’ worth. All in all, this is a pretty tame Restricted flick, and older teens and adult looking for some low-orbital excitement shouldn’t have too many troubles with the content.
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, John Gallagher Jr.. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release January 19, 2024. Updated January 26, 2024
Watch the trailer for I.S.S.
Rating & Content Info
Why is I.S.S. rated R? I.S.S. is rated R by the MPAA for some violence and language.
Violence: An individual is fatally struck in the head with a blunt object. A character is stabbed with a screwdriver, and another with a power drill. A character is strangled. Explosions are seen from a distance with implied fatal consequences.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are six sexual expletives, four scatological terms, and infrequent use of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking socially or as a way to cope with stress.
Page last updated January 26, 2024
I.S.S. Parents' Guide
How have the United States and Russia worked together on the I.S.S.? What have the benefits of that cooperation been? How have political events affected that cooperation? Russia has made claims that they plan to quit the project before it’s scheduled de-orbit in 2031: Do you think they will? Why is the I.S.S. being de-orbited at that time? Do you think it will be replaced? Should it be?