ISS Movie Review: What’s Up With the Ending?

On February 6, the digital release of the sci-fi thriller “International Space Station” took place. Nick Shafir’s script was included in the Black List of Best Scripts at the end of 2020, and literally in January 2021, LD Entertainment studio gave the green light to the film’s production. In this review we tell you how the local confrontation between the USA and Russia went and how interesting it is to watch it.


decent performance of the technical component; some tense moments; showing some of the character traits inherent in Russians


the film fails precisely as a topical statement and almost entirely as a suspense-filled claustrophobic thriller; lack of characters you want to empathize with; the plot causes indifference to almost everything that happens on the screen; Overall a boring movie

International Space Station / ISS

Genre sci-fi thriller
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Starring: Ariana Debos, Chris Messina, John Gallagher Jr., Masha Mashkova, Costa Ronin, Pilou Asbæk
Premiere digital services (Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV+)
Year of release 2023
IMDb website

Two American astronauts arrive at the International Space Station – engineer Christian Campbell and scientist Kira Foster, for whom this is her first flight. They join four colleagues already working on site – fellow countryman Gordon Barrett and three Russians – one woman and two male brothers. This space mission “outside politics” began as just another job that would take place in a pleasant atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual understanding, even despite the language, mental, cultural and any other barrier.

But very soon the teams begin to witness how the beautiful blue planet is subjected to a series of powerful flashes, very similar to nuclear explosions. An American notification from Earth does not hesitate to arrive, which reports that a war has broken out between Russia and the United States, and the ISS serves as an important facility and must be taken under control at any cost. As the fiery haze grows on the planet’s body like a cancerous tumor, the situation at the station, where both teams receive identical orders, will worsen.

International Space Station director Gabriela Cowperthwaite specializes primarily in documentaries and also directed the critically acclaimed biopic of American soldier Megan Leavey. Her new science-fiction thriller conveys a very obvious pacifist message, but the creators are clearly late with their essentially useless maxims about the meaninglessness of bloodshed. Such fairy-tale stories will definitely not have any influence on the brutal aggressor who has been destroying Ukraine for almost two years.

In the context of today, it is impossible to simply look at Russian characters and react to them in the way the authors intended. There cannot be even the slightest desire to see something good in them, when literally on the eve of writing this text the occupiers once again struck Kharkov and killed innocent children.

The episode looks eloquent when Kira Foster, new to the ISS, who can roughly be called the main character, cannot understand the actions of seemingly yesterday’s friends with whom she was drinking alcohol. “Are they really the kind of people who can kill Gordon?” the girl asks. But now it is rhetorical and irrelevant, since the entire civilized world has long known the answer to it.

In general, the film has enough episodes that may confuse the Ukrainian viewer. The initial credits talk something about the space collaboration between Russia and the United States after the Cold War, while the world is already experiencing a new round of geopolitical crisis, and here we again remember that the film was released somehow untimely.

It’s hard to comprehend the scenes where Russians and Americans calmly fraternize to the symbolic Wind Of Change and phrases like “It’s important that we stick together” are heard. Not without, of course, the singing of the Soviet song “And we don’t dream about the roar of the cosmodrome,” which is also quite eloquent.

The icing on the cake is a photograph of Zhitomir native Sergei Pavlovich Korolev hanging right above the Russian tricolor. And although the debate about the nationality of the “father of astronautics” continues to this day, even at the level of the official accounts of Ukraine and Russia on the former Twitter (where Musk, as always, inserted his unnecessary 5 kopecks), it is now well known where the brilliant designer was tortured and how he was treated by the Soviet authorities of the Stalin era.

If you look at the film with an emotionless, cold gaze outside the current political context, then everything doesn’t look very good here either. First of all, the film does not work well as a claustrophobic space thriller, the electrified atmosphere of which should keep you in an ever-increasing tension. This practically never happens: small-town star wars cause sheer boredom, or, at most, fair indifference.

In the cast you can notice the Russian Masha Mashkova, the daughter of the notorious Putinist Vladimir Mashkov. However, the actress moved to the States, where she received citizenship and is now building her career there. She publicly opposed a full-scale Russian invasion and condemned her father’s position. Before appearing in “International Space Station,” Mashkova managed to star in another space-themed project—the fourth season of “For All Mankind” from Apple TV+.

In relation to the performers of other roles, there is really nothing to say except that the broken Russian Pilou Asbæk is somewhere on the level of “what is your evidence”, or even “I will win for myself” from the steroid-filled Ivan Drago.

As a result, the viewer will find very few reasons to start watching ISS. There are a lot of unpleasant moments and narratives in the film, which, let’s be honest, are the ones that look most fantastic. Russian characters are contradictory and suffer because they have to commit a crime. Poor things.

There is no exciting, hermetic thriller here, from which it is impossible to take your eyes off. All that remains is to watch the burning Earth beautifully shown from space, which has probably become a victim of the actions of one country that has already fed everyone up. It’s not hard to guess which one it is.


Gone are the days when the Cold War was a thing of the past and Michael Bay humorously portrayed a caricature of Russian cosmonaut Lev Andropov in Armageddon. The creators of the “International Space Station” are far from frivolous caricatures and are trying to take a serious approach to the topic of modern world geopolitics, which is quite feverish. But their call for the unity of peoples looks at least strange against the backdrop of the tragedy that occurs every day in Ukraine.

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