Sunshine (2007) Directed by Danny Boyle. With Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne and Chris Evans.
The year is 2057 and the sun is dying. A team of astronauts are sent on a mission to re-ignite our dying star and save humankind. Without further ado, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine cuts to the chase as we’re planted in amongst the crew of the Icarus II on their last chance mission to prolong the future of our race.
Early on, Boyle shows his love for sci-fi cinema, as everything between Silent Running and Alien is referenced in some sort of visual tick-list. More subtle glances than party political broadcasts however, Boyle has the restraint and intelligence to stay in check and his references – particularly to Alien – help set a tone of unease. Somehow, this feels like a one way trip.
On a relatively slim budget for the genre, the production design of the ship environment and visual effects are supreme artistry in themselves. The Icarus II, with it’s traditionally eerie computer voice and tight, confined spaces is an essential character within the piece and it’s fragility in the face of the almighty power of the sun weighs as a constantly nervy backdrop.
With a running time of just 107mins, it’s fair to say that Sunshine could have benefited from some fleshing out. Certain events have the feel of being skipped over and a muddled sense threatens undermine as it lurches forward in a way that can seem abrupt. The final act of adds to that sense as the film shifts gear in terms of tone and becomes more a nightmarish hack n’ slash in space than the intelligent sci-fi action/drama that had been built up.
In summary, Sunshine is something of a beautiful mess. It’s soundtrack and visuals stand-out, but it’s an uneven ride with an ending that could be the very definition of ‘tacked on’. Given the impressive first two thirds, it’s a real shame to not be able to speak more highly of it as it is brimming with ideas that are ultimately squeezed out by what is a disappointingly short trip. 3.5/5