Movie Review: IO

An unmitigated disaster on all fronts, this movie should be avoided like an Earth with a dying atmosphere.

by Dan Brenic

Often I wonder why I watch something when after viewing the trailer, I say out loud “Boy, this looks bad.” Then I remember that I have an issue with being a completionist. For whatever reason, I want to watch as many Netflix Original movies as possible, probably because the time investment is very minimal as compared to series which can take anywhere from 2-13 hours of my time. I knew I was getting into lousy territory before I even sat down to watch IO, the latest movie about Earth dying, but I didn’t realize how bad it really would be.

IO stars Margaret Qualley as Sam Walden, the “research assistant” to Henry Walden (Danny Huston) as she remains on Earth to research how living organisms are adapting to Earth’s increasingly inhospitable atmosphere. Suddenly a man named Micah (Anthony Mackie) appears in a hot air balloon, looking for Dr. Walden because reasons.  I put research assistant in quotations because of how the movie decides to handle the reasonably apparent relationship of Sam and Henry because when Sam and Micah first meet, she names herself as Dr. Walden’s research assistant, despite the movie obviously throwing it at you that she is his daughter.

I don’t want to dig more into the plot despite my hatred for this movie because I like to keep these written reviews as spoiler-free as possible. That said the plot is the number one culprit in this movie. The film will try to portray a very standard three-act structure, but if you pull off its mask Fred Jones-style, you’ll find that it was old man two-act structure all along, where the first act takes over an hour for no reason at all. We know that they must go to the final shuttle launch, why in the world are they still at the residence talking.

So, because of the lazy narrative, this must become a performance piece. Unfortunately for you the viewer, it can’t do that because Margaret Qualley cannot handle that kind of role. I initially saw her in the Death Note Netflix adaptation and felt she was a block of wood there. In this, she at least can express emotion but does it in totally unbelievable ways. Anthony Mackie is just as guilty being that he just stands there expressionless for the entire run length. Danny Huston is in the movie for all of five minutes, probably because he saw the script he signed on for and realized that his planet needed him. The only other character in the movie is Elon, voiced by Tom Payne, who is Sam’s love interest. Elon is never seen in the film and is only heard through monotone reads of correspondences sent between him and Sam.

If I haven’t made it abundantly clear yet, don’t watch this movie under any circumstances. Tell your wife that most anything else on Netflix is better than this, ignore the banner ads that are currently in place, hard avoid this movie. The only thing you’ll want after watching is your time back or to breathe some toxic Earth air to relieve the pain.

1/5 stars