The just second time director (also creator of the graphic novel on which this is based) has vision by the bucket load but no sense of timing within the story telling and can't really mount an exciting action sequence.
Loved the design, though and Tom cruise's performance was tremendous. It's crazy that I like him more and more as an actor but with this, Jack Reacher and the Mission Impossible films he's proving himself to really just be a watchable, enjoyable and, in this, a damn fine actor. Having seemingly dropped the annoying, chest thumping earnestness that plagued his younger, dramatic roles. In this he is just the right level of wistful, cheeky and action man so as to be intriguing and an engaging protagonist for us to be stuck with for 2hrs plus. Good thing too as the entire film hangs on his diminutive shoulders. Also a good thing that his space suit mirrors those collarless leather jackets his prizes above all others.
I didn't much care for the English redheaded actress in the film, Andrea Riseborough. She seemed too young, too serious, too annoying and just not well matched to the subject matter or her leading man. True her part doesn't really give her much to do and yes a certain reveal in the film later explains away some of her characters inability to embrace Cruise's character's romance with Earth but even so, while it's clear she is a talented actress, her performance grated with me and felt out of place.
The rest of the performers in the film were satisfactory considering the one note parts they had been handed out. Morgan Freeman has a cool "Oh look it's Morgan Freeman" entrance that they sadly ruined in the trailer but apart from that his purpose is to be the kindly, wise but strong African American sci-fi character cut from much of the same cloth as Lawrence Fishburne in The Matrix.
Overall the film is literally every science fiction film ever made rolled into one but with a great design and enough new for you not to mind what it's got in common with previous films such as 2001, Moon and even Independence Day.
In a film that needed to balance lofty ideas, a few twists, an epic sense of romance and explosive action I am not sure it 100% succeeded and the score, sadly, doesn't help this by being flat and instantly forgettable but for a second time director, if you like proper Sci-Fi and want to see a riveting Cruise performance, well you can't go wrong.
A flat 7 out of 10 cool 70s looking airline lunch.