Sunshine seemed a little mixed when they were doing the original promos for the movie. Sometimes it seemed like it was going to be a straight sci-fi film with some thrills and other times it seemed like it was going to be a weird horror film where the monster was the Sun. All told, I was curious but never enough to actually seek out and watch the film. Turns out the trailers were spot on about the movie not quite fully knowing what it wants to be but it at least manages to be entertaining.
The film starts with our narrator, Capa played by Cillian Murphy, letting us all know that the sun is dying and instead of becoming a red giant over billions of years it has just started to peter out and give up. So the best plan for survival we could come up with is to deliver a big old payload of freedom to the sun and hope the explosion reignites it…somehow. Thankfully, humans are really good at one thing and that one thing is building unnecessarily large bombs. This is actually the second mission to do this since the first mission failed in some way. However, sending 8 people out to bomb the sun was apparently the plan so nice they tried it twice.
The movie spends a lot of time throwing out these little hints that somebody on board is going to go crazy and/or sabotage the mission in some way. Hell, the first scene we get is the psychologist aboard the ship sitting in the observation lounge trying to get as exposed to the sun’s rays as possible and then telling the crew how total light “envelops you” and “becomes you”. This shoots him right to the top of the “going to be crazy” list. We also have a fight between Capa and Mace, played by Chris Evans, where we see Mace has anger issues and a bit of unchecked anger towards Capa. So now we get our “sabotage out of hate” character. This goes on for most of the crew in various capacities and literally all of them are just there to fuck with you. The captain has secret knowledge of the first mission. The communications officer seems to go mad with power. The biologist loses her precious plants. None of this actually matters.
We spend the first 2 acts of the film as a sci-fi thriller with standard space related drama including receiving a distress beacon from the first mission’s ship. They decide to alter course to check on it because they figure two bombs are better than one bomb so let’s see if we can’t salvage that one as well. This is probably the point where I had the largest breakdown of yelling at the screen that none of you brilliant scientist/astronauts which would be the best in your field that the entire planet had to offer would actually think that was a good idea. “Yeah, the first mission probably just parked out near the sun instead of finishing it’s mission. I’m sure all of the systems on the ship are functional and could fly and unload the bomb but the crew have been taking a seven year nap.” Sorry, when the fate of the entire world depends on you blowing some shit up, just go blow that shit up. You already have one bomb. You don’t then bet humanity’s salvation on black because you think you can double your money. Anyway.
The last act turns sharply into being a horror movie that has more in common with Event Horizon and Alien. I knew that the “sun zombie”, as my friend put it, was going to show up so it wasn’t quite as jarring as it probably would have been if I hadn’t been expecting the sudden shift to happen. He does all the standard monster stuff like cut the power and gain the ability to never be in focus. The other horror movie trope Sunshine has running throughout the film is that there is always one character in a horror movie that constantly acts like an asshole but it turns out that their advice was actually what you should have been listening to the whole time. In this instance it was Mace but unlike a regular horror character that is saying they should let some guy die, he is 100% rational in all of those calls because it is literally the fate of one man vs the entire world.
In the end, I enjoyed the film a good deal even if it did have the bad habit of constantly trying to tease everyone as the bad guy. It should also be noted that it is a very well shot and put together film with some great special effects. I would give Sunshine a 4 out of 5.
Favorite thing in the movie: The space suit they use is a giant, golden monstrosity that I could not help but think of as “The Space Pimp”.
Least favorite thing: They never once mention why the sun is dying the way that it is even though they hired on famed physicist Brian Cox in order to give them an actual reason for it happening that way.