I.S.S (2023) – Movie Review and Summary (with Spoilers)

In “I.S.S.,” it appears Ariana DeBose plans to actively avoid the usual Oscar slump a lot of people, especially people of color, experience via a sci-fi drama where there is a nuclear war and a battle for the International Space Station.

Kira (Ariana DeBose)

Film Summary

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Kira, a new member of the International Space Station, has left a lot behind on Earth, mostly heartache, and now just wants to focus on her research dealing with growing organs. However, as nuclear war breaks out on Earth, she finds herself stuck between her American colleagues and their Russian counterparts who are tasked with taking over the International Space Station – by any means necessary.

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.


Kira is a doctor who, thanks to the loss of a family, has dedicated her research to organ replacement. However, due to complications in her personal life and research on Earth, she has come to the International Space Station to progress what she started.


Veronica is a Russian woman who helps bridge relations between the Russians and Americans.


Alexi handles communications for the Russians and is Nikolai’s brother.

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Nikolai is a researcher like Kira, focusing on radiation poisoning, which becomes highly valuable after the events on Earth.


Gordon is the leader of the Americans and Veronica’s partner.


Christopher is a California native who rides up with Kira and isn’t new to the Internationship Space Station.


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Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)


Never Knowing Who To Trust Or Who May Live

The International Space Station with Earth on fire thanks to nuclear war
“The International Space Station with Earth on fire thanks to nuclear war,” I.S.S, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, 2023, (Tribeca Film Festival)

Because a slew of complicated relationships are going on, it is hard to figure out who may live or die ultimately. Gordon and Veronica are dating, Alexi and Nikolai are brothers, and Christopher just wants to get home to his kids, so anything could happen. Never mind, these people have known each other for years, and while that comes with a certain level of camaraderie, it also makes being told to take over the space station by any means seemingly permission to kill that person who has long gotten on your nerves. Hell, maybe someone you’ve been envious of.

So with this in mind, you’re led to question who may die first, if someone may fake their death, and as the numbers dwindle, how wild may things get for it isn’t just the orders from the ground everyone is worried about, but also the I.S.S falling and needing a thruster boost to not burn in Earth’s atmosphere and crash to the ground.

On The Fence

A Difficult Ending To Accept

It is incredibly difficult to nail the ending for a movie like this. Either you have to kill off all but one, have everyone die, have one side win, or there ultimately be a compromise. No way of ending this is going to satisfy everyone, and then comes the question of how far into a resolution and maybe epilogue will you go? Will you show Earth after a nuclear war begins and give an idea of what happens after the final scene? Where to cut things off and ultimately leave the audience to fill in the blanks is a challenge, and, unfortunately, where “I.S.S” ends likely will leave you frustrated.

General Information

Director(s) Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Screenplay By Nick Shafir
Based On N/A
Date Released (Film Festival – Tribeca Film Festival) June 18, 2023
Genre(s) Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Film Length 1 Hour 35 Minutes
Content Rating Not Rated
Noted Characters and Cast
Kira Ariana DeBose
Veronica Masha Mashkova
Alexi Pilou Asbæk
Nikolai Costa Ronin
Gordon Chris Messina
Christopher John Gallagher Jr.

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What Is There Worth Noting, Content Wise?

There are depictions of murder as well as blood.

Kira (Ariana DeBose)
I.S.S (2023) – Movie Review and Summary (with Spoilers)
While imperfect, there is no denying as you question who may live, die, and if survivors will even get to celebrate their victory, “I.S.S” takes you for a ride.

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