Movie review: Sunshine (2007)

The sun is dying. And with it goes humanity.

This is essentially the theme of Sunshine, set approximately 50 years in the future. Eight intrepid scientists, engineers, and other specialists are on their way to the sun to drop a bomb into it in hopes of jumpstarting the sun again.

50 years? Never mind that 50 years doesn’t seem to be nearly the amount of time needed to produce the type of technology used for this trip. It’s sci-fi. I’ll suspend belief a bit.

This UK flick starts out a bit slow. The pace doesn’t necessarily pick up; Sunshine isn’t an action-packed film, but situation after situation ensues. The crew makes a fateful decision when they encounter the distress beacon of a previous ill-fated ship sent seven years earlier on the same mission.

Do they continue blithely on their mission to deliver the bomb into the sun? Or do they rendezvous with the previous ship to harvest their bomb? Whether the bomb will actually do what it needs to do is far from certain. And Earth has no more materials for another bomb, so this is it. The rationale behind harvesting the bomb from the other ship is that one of the bombs would work if the other doesn’t.

The movie shows the interactions between eight people on a mission critical to the survival of mankind, differing opinions, and the ways these differences are or aren’t dealt with. The crew is faced with life or death questions that never let up.

Fix damaged solar panels outside of the ship and die in the process or compromise the survival of the ship and crew and the mission? Die in another ship or attempt to jump back to the main ship that requires one man to stay behind forever? Kill a member in order to have enough oxygen to carry out the mission or let him live and jeopardize the mission?

Somewhere along the way the possibility of any of them making it back to earth was jettisoned. The focus is on how to complete the mission. Some of the crew are more tied to duty than others. Some are more tied to the chain of command than others.

What do you do when ordered to do something that wouldn’t be for the good of the mission and thus the good of humanity? What do you do if you are confronted with doing something that would help the success of the mission but goes against laws and human morality?

Ostentatiously a sci-fi space adventure, Sunshine is more about relations between people in the midst of serious questions involving duty, right and wrong, and morality. The dilemmas that the crew faced at each turn ended up keeping me on the edge of my seat.

 

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