Disclaimer: I’m dropping some serious SPOILERS in this post. Scroll on if you dare 🙂
IO is about life many years into the future when Earth is nearly uninhabitable due to lack of clean air. The movie focuses on Sam (Margaret Qualley), the daughter of a once-respected scientist and Micah (Anthony Mackie), a mysterious traveler. The two must decide if they will leave for Jupiter’s moon IO on the last of the escape pods or stay on Earth and die.
For every win, there is surely a loss, as proven once again by Netflix. Rushed explanations and flimsy dialogue are mostly to blame, but the truth is IO rests on the shoulders of an uninteresting and unlikable protagonist.
Part of me wants to say that IO has potential; it could almost be a powerful story about what it means to believe in something bigger than yourself or even the power of human connection. The other part of me is really disappointed with how the story unfolds and the fact that so many burning questions remain after the movie ends.
- Why exactly is IO the destination for humans? Through voice-over early in the movie we learn that it’s considered to be the ideal place for humans, however, there never is a concrete explanation. Who made the decision to flee there? Was it the government? A private citizen? For a movie named after the place, it’s weird that we never see it or learn about life there.
- What science actually supports the idea of purifying drinking water with sand and charcoal? Sam claims that “it’s all [water] needs” and while I don’t pretend to understand complex science (or even simple science), that just doesn’t sound legit.
- Why did Sam hide her father’s death for so long? She finally admits to Micah that she’s been replaying her dad’s old broadcasts over the radio in an attempt to make it seem like he is still alive. Her father coerced many people into staying behind with the promise that he could find a way to make the planet livable again. By hiding his death, Sam has manipulated a lot of innocent people. This one selfish action ultimately jeopardized lives (though unclear how many). I was already waffling on the character and this admission really put me over the fence.
- Did Sam already know she could survive in Earth’s new toxic climate? If not, was she really willing to risk her life and the life of her only friend? Micah is desperate to get Sam to leave for the last escape pod with him. When it’s almost time to go, she refuses to hook up to another oxygen tank and chooses instead to remove her mask, all while a distraught Micah looks on. Was she really so committed to a dying Earth that she was willing to commit suicide? Or did she instinctively know that her life would go on? IO doesn’t seem concerned with its audience knowing the answer.
- Is it really possible to build up an immunity to a toxic atmosphere? IO surely wants us to believe it is. Again, I’m no science person, but it just seems a teensy bit far-fetched. I might be able to swallow this story line if the film used some kind of evolution defense or any other creative explanation. There is a scene when Sam is conducting some type of “test” on herself that leaves red bruises on her torso. When Micah expresses curiosity about the unusual markings, Sam offers some vague explanation that even in the moment I thought he should’ve questioned a little more. The movie seems to suggest that she found a way to intentionally build up her immunity, which gave her the ability to thrive.
- Who the $!?@ is that kid with Sam on the beach!? At the movie’s end, Sam is standing on the beach breathing freely without her mask, much like she described in her recurring dream. A small child runs up to her (whose face we do not see), implying that she has birthed the next generation. We only saw her with one man and while the two shared an
awkwardly uncomfortable and weirdkiss, it certainly never seemed like anything happened beyond that.
If you’re a faithful reader of The Andrea Chronicles, you know it’s rare that I encourage anyone to avoid a movie, but there is a first time for everything. Netflix has so many other good titles streaming at the moment that you’re better off picking something that’s not so painfully dull.
If you have any thoughts you know what to do! See ya in the comments.