It is an unprecedented situation, my anger at a film has becomes so all encompassing that I feel I must return to it a second time in light of new and disturbing information. This piece contains spoilers. My original issue with the film was the disconnect between the apparent care and attention given over to carefully constructing the space craft, and the complete disregard for any sense of a realistic storyline. Since a discussion with a work colleague about the potential physical impossibility of Kowalski (Clooney) floating off into space like that, I found my suspicions confirmed by this article alongside all manner of other darker implications. Now this astronaut says he actually quite liked the film in spite of these inconsistencies, but I wonder if he would have felt the same way if he realized Ryan Stone was a space assassin? Of course none of this will argue that it is not an amazing story of survival against the odds, but it might make you question why Stone was in space at all. It all really stems from the moment when she lets Kowalski go, to float into space and eventually suffer a horrific, cold, airless death. Bullshit I hear you call, even if the characters forward motion had been stymied and they could simply have pulled themselves back to the ship, and even if Kowalski would simply have floated in a stationary position when he was let go he did tell Stone (Bullock) to let him go, Stone is no assassin. I have also since been reminded that even if Kowalski had farted it wouldn’t have provided the thrust to send him careening off into space, it would merely have stunk up his space suit. So lets look at the facts. We know from later in the film that Stone is especially susceptible to hallucinations when she is running out of oxygen – and this is certainly the case when she is in this life or death situation. It is possible that here she is simply hallucinating a serene calm Kowalski, when the reality is that his is shouting to her “don’t let me go, please, don’t let me go”, her oxygen starved brain is simply hallucinating a convenient coping strategy with the murder she is about to commit. Why would it be murder though? Could she not simply be the victim of her own hallucination? Potentially, but other things in the film point towards her being a hired space assassin. The fact checking astronaut points out that someone with that little training would unlikely be allowed on the mission at all, wouldn’t be involved in a space walk, and would usually be bought in at short notice to fill a very specific role. That very specific role here is the murder of Kowalski. It is evident that Stone has received far more training than her position would imply, given her ability to save herself, but note that her skills are very limited to only those required to get herself back to earth – a space assassin training program would unlikely be concerned with the complexity of space travel when it serves such a limited function, her training is limited but absolutely in line with her needs. There is that back story, the one where she has no family and no friends and lost her daughter in a car crash, it sounds a lot like someone with nothing to lose, it sounds like an assassin. Clearly the space debris situation was not part of the plan, but notice the point when Kowalski is murdered. As far as Stone knows at this stage the escape pod in the space station will allow her to return safely to earth, the point when she lets go of Kowalski he serves her no further purpose having safely returned her to the ship. Only a cold calculating assassin would make such a choice, she requires his help no more so she completes her more sinister task. So what about that other hallucination, the one where Kowalski returns from the dead to tell her how to get home. Stone is not the perfect assassin, it is a simple manifestation of her guilt and the fact that she was falling in love with her victim, he did after all have beautiful blue eyes. Guilt nearly consumes her and she contemplates taking her own life, despite having the knowledge to get herself to the second space station. What is more important about this hallucination though is that it is seen from outside of Stone, from a third person perspective – and yet we still see the hallucination exactly as she does. This, importantly, means that the whole film is being told from Stones perspective, but not the first person, she is telling the story, but potentially at a later date as a memory, or, I prefer to believe, in the debriefing room at her assassin employers. Effectively, as a memory she can alter the story in any way she pleases. Which brings us to her employer. There is only one motive as far as I can see. Kowalski points out his desire to beat the current record for time spent space walking … the current record holder simply cannot let that happen.


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