Matt Damon’s character, Mark Watney, summons all of his ingenuity and courage to endure a seemingly impossible situation. In addition, he has to deal with loneliness on top of it all. Despite the Lone Man Against Nature plot line, there’s a reason why the filmmakers cast Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as the captain of the mission that’s forced to abort its exploration of the planet’s surface and leave Mark for dead – it wasn’t so that she could turn tail and head for Earth with her crew in the first ten minutes and never return. You also know that despite the heated discussions back on Earth of how risky, time consuming, and how expensive a rescue mission would be, NASA will still have to stage one, and that any objections (mainly by Jeff Daniels’ character, the agency’s director) will be waved off in the name of doing what’s right. Since what will happen is never in question, all that remains is “how.”
Throughout the film, Mark talks to himself, walking us through his processes. For instance, he shows how he re-liquefies dried-out waste and mixes it into arid Martian soil and then inserts halved potatoes into crop furrows and waits for a sprig of green to appear.
Cost-benefit analysis constantly comes into play as when Mark drives several hundred kilometres in a rover to dig up tech left over from another Mars mission, he has to decide whether to turn off the heat in the cockpit to save power during the long journey or risk freezing in the vehicle.
The film flicks between Mark on Mars and the NASA technicians, scientists and managers on earth. These people race against the clock, working through equations, worrying about money, fuel and safety issues. With all of this going on, they try to talk to each other without hysteria. They becoming very impulsive with their words, resulting in many apologies. You also see them cracking jokes. Some of the exchanges verge on workplace comedy, making it feel like a realistic, high-pressure workplace.
The film’s peak is a music montage near the climax that interrupts the flow of the rescue action to show the astronauts on Mark’s old spaceship contacting their loved ones via satellite video, informing them of their increased journey. A husband shows his wife a record album that he bought for her birthday and a father delights his kids by floating through the spaceship’s interior in zero gravity, swallowing water bubbles like a fish. Billions gather to watch the rescue on live TV at the end. For Mark and his old team, it is life or death as the suspense increases as the rescue attempts to take place.
This movie is incredibly good. The science aspects feels real and the characters are believable and loveable. I recommend this film to everyone, even those who do not know much about science as it is explained in a simple and clear way. An incredibly interesting film!