Europa Report is a slow-burning science fiction thriller, remaining claustrophobic, tense, and exciting throughout. It’s defined by the way it builds suspense: where so many sci-fi films have massive budgets and feature explosions and action scenes, this one’s built around the fluidity of its narrative. We’re given a tale of six astronauts traveling on a mission to Europa, one of the many moons of Jupiter in hopes of finding out what its depths hold. There’s an icy surface, leading them to believe that there’s water underneath; what’s within the water is anyone’s guess, whether that be bacteria, algae, or even a developed ecosystem. Malfunctions happen along their mission, and when they land they find that there’s something odd about the radiation and light emanating from below. The film works with its slow build and masters these characters and their situations. Morality issues come into play and we understand the motives behind their insistence for discovery; when we see the big payoff, the reveal that so many sci-fi films avoid, it feels like a proper conclusion to a film built on its enclosed atmosphere.
Grade: ★★★★ (out of 5)