3022 Explained-Hope Can Keep You Alive
John Suits’ sci-fi thriller is a soulful head trip from beginning to end.
What would you do if you were separated from your family for ten years in the isolation of space? It is a tough decision. Our current astronauts face these struggles right now. The space cowboys of 3022 face those challenges on a bigger scale. A ten-year mission onboard the Pangaea en route to Europa One for refueling is their goal. It’s a daunting thought. It is a huge sacrifice these men and women make for their careers and the world. Brief conversations, pictures, and videos are all they have to keep them grounded. When memories alone are all the crew has left fear and despondency take hold. For some, loneliness is all that remains. The cleverly titled 3022 asks those questions and answers with a hopeful if quiet assertion.
Early clues to the film’s real meaning can be found in the ship’s name. Named after the supercontinent believed to exist during the Triassic and Jurassic periods, Pangaea represents unity. With what happens on Earth and the likely role a scientist or a group of scientists had in its destruction, the combined effort of the few that remain on any ships with enough life-supporting capacity and those on Europa One becomes essential for humanity to survive.
The well-cast sci-drama set in the year 2190 features Omar Epps(ER), Kate Walsh(Private Practice), Miranda Cosgrove(ICarly), and underused Angus MacFadyen(Braveheart). Each brings a level of depth and likability to their familiar characters. A host of deeply emotional moments is punctuated by Walsh, who does the bulk of the heavy lifting, while Epps does the stoic hero very well. Given a close-up shot and plenty of mental anguish, he can stare down with the best of them. Cosgrove provides a limited amount of levity as she sheds her Nickelodeon days. Ship physician, Richard, is the sage voice of reason until he succumbs to the very thing he warns the others of. Macfadyen, although given brief moments to display a wide range of emotions, does so very effectively.
Five years into a ten-year mission, a cataclysmic event rocks the ship and prevents any further communication with Earth. Fortunately, the ship was far enough away; they were not destroyed. Unfortunately, they had just been told by their physician that the crew was compromised by mental instability and needed to abort. Furthermore, Earth now appears to be a charred, dead mass. With only four crewmen, this is a tight ship. As the four-person crew comes to terms with their situation and their injuries, they must make peace with their new reality. In the shock wave, Cosgrove’s Lisa, the youngest member of the crew, is seriously injured and dies from a head wound. Richard commits suicide by floating in his grief. After an explosive, violent sequence forces the two remaining people to be separated, hope is all they have to stay alive.
Midway through three French astronauts, but provide little beyond action sequences. The expected outcome of their arrival acts as a plot device that is necessary if wholly predicted. The three additional survivors led by Captain Lane(Jorja Fox) broadcast their plot beat with weirdly phrased comments and sly looks. Enver Gjokak(Dollhouse) is deliciously unhinged with Fox and Haaz Sleiman(Nikita), each playing their part. Their arrival and the action sequence that ensues breaks up the melancholy tone of the film.
We have seen this film before. Gravity, Interstellar, even the recent Ad Astra has done the same themes on a much bigger budget. That’s not a knock on 3022. In fact, it’s probably a check in the plus column. For sci-fi drama lovers of themes heavy in emotional weight, Suits’ film will be a serviceable night of cinema. This sci-fi mystery is first presented as a puzzle to be solved but is a thoughtful rumination on what it means to survive.
Visually the necessary elements are present. The ship is generically industrial, and lighting is a cross between stark bright lighting and darkened shadows. Costumes are perfunctory with a distinctive less is more approach. The shots of space, although not awe-inspiring, do enough to further the constant theme of desperation and desolation. For all the discussion of space psychosis, this film is really about companionship and the need for hope.
Walsh’s Jackie lost her daughter on Earth. To make matters worse, she missed the last call she ever made. Everyone has lost someone. Most have lost everyone. The loss is crushing. The thought of no home, no family, no friends is overwhelming. There are mysterious lights and near-catatonic states that serve to demonstrate the fragility of the human mind. How and why Earth was destroyed is less important than what happens now. Mixed with an uneven timeline that jumps back and forth, 3022 feels like Suits wanted to go one direction and instead chose another halfway through. By the time the credits roll, the only thing that matters is faith.
Hallucinations of deceased family members are visual proof of the crew’s pain. Jackie and Richard have philosophical discussions on what it means to be alive over hands of Go Fish in a surprisingly effective bit of writing by Ryan Binaco that packs a believable sting. This smart bit of writing shares space with weird narrative decisions like smoking onboard a ship that is running out of oxygen, and having a bender right after discussing rationing supplies. These contradictory behaviors often confuse the story and dilute more solemn situations.
By the end, the title which is previously used as part of the mystery is revealed to be a clever trick. 3022 is not the year, but rather the number of days spent in space. Instead of feeling manipulative, it is contemplative. The enormity of John and Jackie’s perseverance is important and feels that way. The will to survive is necessary. For that will to be present humans, need connections with other people. They need hope in a better future. Jackie and John have faith in each other and find the necessary will to keep going when most would give up. With most of humanity lost, Jackie and John find hope in each other.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.