After a first act devoted to character development I.S.S. becomes a taut action thriller in the vain of a home invasion movie. Only the enclosed space is the International Space Station.

I.S.S. uses a winning formula of cool special effects mixed with psychological terror to tell its story. If the protracted battle of wills between Russian and American astronauts ends with a whimper rather than a bang it still fits the trajectory of the story.

A couple of American scientists-slash-astronauts arrive at the ISS aboard the Russian space craft Soyuz. It’s a joint mission with three American and 3 Russian crew members, each assigned specific experiments in addition to regular space station duties.

The effects mimic the minimalism seen in Kubrick’s 2001. Yes, these people are in outer space but the mundane nature of their lives in zero gravity is portrayed with amazing realism. If all the characters have short hair that serves to increase believability because their gravity-free follicles aren’t waving around all over the place. A subplot involves a medical experiment seen being performed early on.

One night a glance at the Earth below reveals a series of what appears to be atomic explosions across a large part of the planet.

Each section chief receives a message from their home country to take over the installation “by any means necessary.”

What follows mixes genres in a blender of possibilities. In the end the excellent B-level cast (including an AA winner in her follow up to her Oscar®) eliminates itself until the few survivors forge a new universe.

I.S.S. is not an empty calorie programmer. There’s substance to what unfolds. Good word of mouth will increase awareness.

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